Another day, another life lost to America’s ever-escalating gun violence.
On Thursday, seven-year-old Emma Watson Nowling took a break from soccer training to greet a man on the sidelines.
“Little Emma went up and gave the guy a hug,” Emma’s soccer coach Mario Scicluna told the Detroit Free Press.
When practice ended, the same man is believed to have shot Emma along with her mother Sharon Elizabeth Watson, 37, in the car park of the Taylor Sporting Arena before turning the gun on himself.
Emma was rushed to the Children’s Hospital of Detroit, where she later died of her injuries, her mother remains in a critical condition.
According to local police, the shooter, 57-year-old Timothy Nelson Obeshaw, was a friend of the Nowling family and witnesses said he had previously attended the girl’s practices and games.
Mr Obeshaw was described by relatives as mentally unstable, but his motivations for the attack remain unclear.
“Police found evidence that Obeshaw believed someone was trying to perform mind control on him,” a press release from the Taylor Police Department said.
“Unfortunately, this man’s apparent mental illness led to a little girl who just wanted to play soccer never going home again,” the Chief of Police Mary Sclabassi wrote in a post on the department’s Facebook page.
She also said that in September, Obeshaw registered the handgun he used in the incident in his name in nearby Belleville.
The incident is yet another tragic reminder of the need for better gun control laws in the United States, where in 2015, there has already been more mass shootings than days in the year.
“A lot of the families are in shock and were traumatised by what happened,” Mr Scicluna, Emma’s coach, said.
“She was a fun, excited girl. As time went on, she developed her soccer skills very rapidly, and was showing a lot of enthusiasm for the game. She had a bright future ahead of her.”
In 1996, following the Port Arthur massacre, former Prime Minister John Howard took on the Australia gun lobby and introduced the buy back scheme, which saw more than 700,000 licensed fire arms destroyed.
Whatever else can be said of Howard’s policies, in this instance he got it right because, unlike in the US, children can go to soccer practice here without fear of being gunned down.
Are you grateful for Australia’s firm stance on guns?