Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday blamed teacher protests at the state Capitol earlier this year for the shooting of a 7-year-old girl, The (Louisville) Courier Journal reported.
That newspaper said Bevin, who was speaking to the Louisville Rotary Club, appeared to be referring to a shooting on March 12 in Shively. The girl was shot when she and her 11-year-old brother were inside a house alone and their uncle, who was their guardian, was outside, according to the newspaper.
The Courier-Journal said that on March 27, police said the boy accidentally shot his sister and she underwent surgery. The girl was “listed in good condition, being transferred to begin rehabilitation, eating solid food,” the newspaper reported.
Jefferson County Schools closed that day because of teacher “sickouts.”
“One thing you almost didn’t hear anything about while we had people pretending to be sick when they weren’t sick, and leaving kids unattended to or in situations that they should not have been in — a little girl was shot, seven years old, by another kid,” Bevin reportedly said Thursday. “Because they were somewhere that they weren’t intended and because a parent didn’t have any option put them in a situation so that they could go to work, it left these kids in a compromised situation where they encountered a gun and there was not enough awareness.”
Marisa McNee, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Democratic Party, issued a statement Thursday criticizing the Republican governor who is running for re-election.
“Governor Bevin’s continued attacks on teachers are disgusting and unforgivable,” McNee said. “In the past, he’s accused teachers of causing children to be sexually assaulted, and now he’s claiming they are responsible for a child killed in an accidental shooting. He’s completely out of control. Kentuckians deserve better than this.”
Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat who is running for governor, also had a strong reaction.
“Despicable. Matt Bevin is unfit to govern. Kentucky families, teachers, and kids deserve so much better than this governor,” he said.
Adam Edelen, also a Democratic candidate for governor said, “There’s plainly something wrong with Matt Bevin. You don’t politicize the shooting of a child. I simply don’t have the words to adequately describe what a new low this is. Governor Bevin clearly lacks the decency and humanity to serve as Kentucky’s leader.”
““Governor Bevin blaming teachers for a child being shot is shameful and politics at its worst. Our community, like the family, is devastated by what occurred and prays for the children. This should drive us to enact commonsense gun safety, not further a spiteful agenda against teachers,” said House Democratic Whip Joni Jenkins of Shively.
And Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler said, “The fact that the least popular Governor of the United States would use the pain and suffering of a family’s loss of a child for personal gain is disgusting and he should know better. “
Officials in Bevin’s office did not immediately comment on the media reports Thursday afternoon.
The Herald-Leader reported in 2017 that at least 36 Kentucky children had accidentally shot themselves or another child during the previous five years with a loaded gun that adults either gave them or left within their reach.
Last year, when asked about teachers leaving the classrooms to attend a protest rally in Frankfort, Bevin said, “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”
Afterwards, he backed off of that statement, saying, “I hurt a lot of people... I apologize for those who have been hurt by the things that were said.”