Local News

Suspect jailed in Christmas Eve shooting of Raleigh toddler

Posted December 25, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

— Police have jailed a suspect in the shooting death of a 3-year-old boy in southeast Raleigh late Christmas Eve.

Police charged Eric Eugene Hinton, 26, the child's father, with involuntary manslaughter and possession of firearm by felon, Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said. Hinton was arrested before 8 a.m. Thursday morning and is being held on $100,000 bond.

According to the arrest warrant, officers found the body of Pharell Hinton, dead of a gunshot wound, just before midnight Wednesday at 1123 Ujamaa Drive.

Raleigh toddler killed by gunshot Raleigh toddler killed by gunshot

Neighbors told WRAL that the home belonged to Eric Hinton's mother and that he would often visit with his children.

Investigators were back on the scene Thursday, where they found evidence to indicate that the gun used in the shooting belonged to Hinton, according to arrest warrants. Investigators said they believe the child somehow got access to the gun and it discharged, killing him.

Sughrue emphasized that the investigation was not complete.

Hinton has a criminal record, with arrests for larceny, trespass, possession of stolen goods and drug use and possession. He served six months in jail in 2006.

Despite his past run-ins with the law, neighbors told WRAL News that Hinton loved his children. A captain on duty at the Wake County Jail said Hinton was brought in very upset and in no condition to talk to anyone.

Hinton should make his first court appearance Friday morning.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Seeminglyopposed Dec 30, 2008

    No, if you would listen to the tape, it sounded like the police was more interested in other things than the saving of the childs life. This man was trying to give this little boy CPR with the dispatcher on the phone, and then you hear the police asking all of these questions and this all stops until a little later. What are they main concern here? It was not the childs either...That really puts a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to compassion in this matter.

    I was born on Christmas Eve, and when I heard of such a tragedy, it was especially sad. May this little angel rest in peace.

  • meh2 Dec 25, 2008

    From 1984 until 2006, 43 executions. Since August 2006, zero executions. Now tell me again about how well the death penalty is being put to use in this state. There is no death penalty in this state, nor will there be one in the future - the same people who currently run the probation program, the DOT and (mis)manage our tax dollars will see to that.

  • rargos Dec 25, 2008

    "The way the headline reads almost indicates that the father killed him"

    The father did kill him : he left a loaded firearm where a 3 year old could access it. It's no different from putting a child in a room with a poisonous snake or on the ledge of a tall bulding.

  • discowhale Dec 25, 2008

    here's the list from the state.


    But it's the anti-death penalty advocates who are keeping the sentences from being carried out. They've got the system tied in knots.

  • kbo0801 Dec 25, 2008

    This just a mess. A child is killed the day before christmas. He should have been in bed waiting for Christmas gifts to be put out. I agree with jkca. No child that young needs to be up that late. But some parents just let their children stay up all the late at night and the dad has a gone around a toddler, he should not even have a bond. A 26 year old should have since enough to have weapons out of the possession of a child. Every thing happens for a reason and maybe it was in the best interest of the child to be taken out of this home. Sad but true.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Dec 25, 2008

    rogers922: "This is very sloppy reporting and you have literally destroyed this family with your confusing reporting."

    I have to respectfully disagree that WRAL has destroyed this family with their reporting. WRAL might be able to clean up the article some. But the family was already destroyed by their own past history and the father living a life where he feels he needs to carry a gun. WRAL just reported the facts. And the facts show this family, especially the father, is messed up.

  • 1Moms_View Dec 25, 2008

    rogers, while I agree with you that this was very sloppy writing on the part of WRAL staff, WRAL did not destroy this family. The felon father having a loaded gun in the home where innocent children could get ahold of it destroyed this family and took the life of an innocent child. May the child rest in peace.

  • Tootie27 Dec 25, 2008

    Tired of excuses...I agree. From tnis point on this family will no longer be able to enjoy the x-mas holiday. They will forever relate that day to the death of an innocent chid. verr tragis and sad.

  • rogers922 Dec 25, 2008

    WRAL - you really need to pull this story and rework it in a professional manner. At the beginning of the story and in the headline you would have us believe that this child's father took and gun and killed him. Only at the bottom half of the report do you state in a very convoluted manner that the child has somehow managed to take the gun and kill himself accidently.

    This is very sloppy reporting and you have literally destroyed this family with your confusing reporting. Maybe you need to keep the old standards on a stickie near your montior. WHO - WHAT - WHERE - WHEN - WHY. Fail to answer one of those questions and you don't have a factual story. Remember that.

  • jkca Dec 25, 2008

    How sad!! I have two questions though, 1) What is a 3 yr old doing up at midnight? 2) Why was that gun not stored & locked away where the child couldnt get to it. Common sense. And if youre already a convicted fellon wouldnt it make sense to paly things safe so you arent caught again??

    I can answer those two questions and I am probably correct when I say: Children like this poor child are on no "bedtime" schedules. They are up at all hours of the night so that mom can do what she wants(party) and then she and the kids can sleep in all day.
    #2 Good ole father probably was packing the gun when he came in the house and left it out without thinking or even caring of the consequences. And guys like this don't play safe, they could care less.