An 11-year-old was shot to death. His best friend, 12, is the suspect.

Elyjah Munson, 11, died after being shot by a 12-year-old in Clayton County, according to police.

Credit: Family photo

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Elyjah Munson, 11, died after being shot by a 12-year-old in Clayton County, according to police.

Credit: Family photo

‘They were best friends,’ victim’s mom says, calling it an accident

He dreamed of being a professional football player. But first, 11-year-old Elyjah Munson had a Christmas wish: an Xbox.

“You have so many plans,” Kendall Munson, Elyjah’s mother, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I just asked them last week what they really wanted for Christmas.”

Elyjah will not see Christmas this year. On Dec. 9, he was shot and killed as one of his older brothers looked on. The alleged shooter is 12, according to Clayton County police.

“They were best friends,” Munson said. “This was a complete, horrible accident. He was a little kid with a gun, and he didn’t know how to handle it.”

Explore12-year-old charged with murder in Clayton shooting that killed 11-year-old

More than two dozen children and teens have been killed by gunfire this year in metro Atlanta. For Elyjah’s family, tragedy struck twice in as many weeks.

Elyjah’s death came two weeks after his 5-year-old cousin was shot and killed by a 3-year-old sibling, according to police. Khalis Eberhart died Thanksgiving night at the Garden of Camp Creek Apartments in the 4500 block of Washington Road in South Fulton. No charges have been filed in that case, according to police.

In Elyjah’s shooting, the 12-year-old, whose name was not released, was arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault, police said. Munson wasn’t there when her son was shot. But an older son and those who live in the apartment complex where the shooting took place have helped her piece together Elyjah’s final moments.

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Khalis Eberthart, a 5-year-old girl, was shot and killed when her 3-year-old sibling found a gun Thanksgiving night at their South Fulton apartment, according to police.

Credit: Family photo

Khalis Eberthart, a 5-year-old girl, was shot and killed when her 3-year-old sibling found a gun Thanksgiving night at their South Fulton apartment, according to police.

Credit: Family photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Khalis Eberthart, a 5-year-old girl, was shot and killed when her 3-year-old sibling found a gun Thanksgiving night at their South Fulton apartment, according to police.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

Munson theorized that the shooting that took her son happened after a fight involving the 12-year-old’s older brother. The 12-year-old, Munson figures, simply wanted protection.

“I’m not defending this baby for walking around with a gun,” she said. “But in my mind, it made sense that that little boy felt like he had to do it.”

It’s not known where the child got the gun. But Munson believes he may have been showing it off when he pulled it out of his bookbag and fired a shot, striking Elyjah. The Riverdale Elementary School fifth grader died at the scene, just a few blocks from where he lived with his grandparents and three brothers.

Munson, who lives in Chicago, had planned to visit her sons and parents later this week to celebrate her father’s birthday and Christmas. Instead, she must plan a funeral for her 11-year-old, whom she calls her “sweetest little prankster.” A GoFundMe page has been created to assist with the costs of the service.

Through her grief, Munson says she has found peace in knowing Elyjah didn’t suffer. Those in the community have also supported the family, she said. Her faith has helped her in the days since her son’s death.

“God designed this the way he wanted to design it,” she said. “If it was time for Elyjah to go, it was time for Elyjah to go.”

She’s also hopeful that Elyjah’s death encourages others to keep guns out of the reach of children. Munson says the 12-year-old who fired the gun will have to live with horrific incident and doesn’t want his life to be spent behind bars.

“We already lost one,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to lose two.”