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13-year-old dies after being shot by Harlem teen

Posted: March 30, 2012 - 6:19pm  |  Updated: March 31, 2012 - 2:57pm
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Zach Provance, 14, stands before Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan while his father, Richard Wayne Provance, waits to hear the ruling. Zach is accused of accidentally shooting 13-year-old Ellie Kelly on Thursday. Richard Wayne Provance, 54, faces drug and weapons charges.  Valerie Rowell
Valerie Rowell
Zach Provance, 14, stands before Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan while his father, Richard Wayne Provance, waits to hear the ruling. Zach is accused of accidentally shooting 13-year-old Ellie Kelly on Thursday. Richard Wayne Provance, 54, faces drug and weapons charges.

Twitter @ColumbiaCounty

A 13-year-old Harlem girl accidentally shot in the face died Friday afternoon.

Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said that Eleanor “Ellie” Kelly, of the 6200 block of Otis Way, was pronounced dead at about 3 p.m.

Kelly died from a gunshot wound to the head she received Thursday, Collins said.

Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris identified Zach Provance, 14, who lives at the Keener Street residence where the shooting occurred, as the gunman.

A bullet from the .38-caliber revolver used in the shooting lodged in Kelly’s brain, added Deputy Coroner Harriett Garrison.

An autopsy for Kelly has been scheduled at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta on Monday.

At about 4 p.m. Thursday, Harlem police were called to 145 Keener Street and found Kelly shot in the kitchen. She was airlifted to the Georgia Health Science Medical Center for treatment.

Authorities said that Kelly and Provance were inside the home with another boy and girl preparing for a dance at Harlem Middle School, where Kelly and Provance matriculated, when the shooting took place.

Following Kelly’s death, authorities charged Provance with involuntary manslaughter, Morris said. The sheriff’s office initially charged him with reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a person under 18.

Provance currently is jailed at the Re­gional Youth Detention Center, Morris said.

During Provance’s detention hearing Friday morning, Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan ordered that the boy remain in custody while he undergoes a psychological evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete, Flanagan said he’ll decide whether to release the boy to “a fit and willing relative” or into the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services.

Provance’s 54-year-old father, Richard Wayne Provance, was charged with manufacture and possession of drugs and possession of a gun during commission of a crime on Thursday, according to a sheriff’s office report.

During his son’s hearing, Provance lost custody of the 14-year-old boy.

Sheriff’s Investigator Randall Chambers said at the hearing that the boy was showing off the .38-caliber gun.

“He said he did it,” Chambers said. “(Provance said) he was messing around with the gun. He thought it was cool; showing it off. It accidentally discharged.”

No adults were in the home at the time, Chambers said.

“He had the hammer back,” Chambers said. “He explained that he was trying to release the hammer with his finger in front of it so he could ease it back down when it slipped off his finger and discharged.”

The shooting is being ruled accidental, Harlem Public Safety Director David Sward said Thursday.

“We’re still trying to get all of our facts straight, but we do know she wasn’t shot on purpose,” he said.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office was called in to assist in the case, and inside the home investigators discovered “18.4 grams of marijuana, three marijuana plants, two partially smoked marijuana cigarettes and three bags of marijuana seeds,” along with a Colt .45 pistol and marijuana-growing paraphernalia, according to a police report.

Richard Wayne Provance then was arrested, Morris said. Authorities said Provance also had two other handguns and a rifle inside the home.

Juvenile Court Probation Officer Rodney Brown said at the hearing that the boy admitted to a history of smoking marijuana, but a drug test revealed no marijuana in his system at the time of the shooting.

After the shooting, the other girl present ran to Harlem Middle School, where she told administrators what happened, according to a press release from the Columbia County school system.

Harlem Middle faculty and staff reported to school early Friday and psychologists were available to speak to pupils in need of counseling.

“This is what happens when parents have guns in the home and do not secure (them),” Flanagan said at the hearing, before directing his attention to Provance. “I have strong concerns when I have a child using marijuana and dad is growing it. Dad, I don’t know what they charged you with yesterday, but when you come back and see me, there will probably be a couple of more charges.”

This is the second time in 14 months that a Harlem girl was shot by a teen boy.

In January 2011, Alana May Calahan, 14, was fatally shot inside her Miles Road home. Her 15-year-old friend Lacy Aaron Schmidt was convicted of her murder Feb. 10 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

It’s also the second time this week an area youth has been charged with shooting another child.

On Monday afternoon, 10-year-old Hunter Morris was fatally shot at a neighbor’s home in Plantation Acres Mobile Homes in Richmond County. A 12-year-old boy has been charged in connection with the shooting, which the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has said appears to be accidental.

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