OCSO responds to two shootings Monday; one fatal and charges filed
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office was called out twice Monday to two different shootings in Vidor.
The first occurred at about 2:45 p.m. in the 1200 block of Scott Drive. Dispatchers received a call about an unresponsive child. Upon arrival, deputies met with the caller and located the child at the residence who appeared to have a fatal gunshot wound to the head. He was identified as five-year-old John Allen Read. His parents are Kayla and Joe Read.
According to reports, the boy was left with a babysitter, Melissa Ringhardt, 19, at the child’s home located in the 1200 block of Roberts Road which is one block over from Scott Drive. Ringhardt said she heard a noise in another room of the residence. When she went to see what it was, she discovered the child with the injury. There was not a phone at the residence to call for help, so she carried the child to his grandparent’s house on Scott Drive where emergency personnel could be called.
Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Rodney Price was called to the scene where he pronounced the child dead. An autopsy was ordered and the child’s body was transported to the Jefferson County Morgue.
According to the OCSO, during the preliminary investigation it appeared the shooting was accidental. But, the investigation later revealed something much more. Ringhardt had been living with the Read family in their residence for the past few months. On the day of the shooting, she was left alone with the five-year-old boy and a six-month-old infant.
Ringhardt stated to investigators she was carrying a handgun on her person in the home because she was scared of being home alone. The handgun was a semi-automatic .40 caliber pistol. Ringhardt left the handgun on a coffee table in the living room and went to the bedroom to take a nap. When Rinehardt later awoke from her nap, she noticed she didn’t see the boy around the house. She began looking until she found him deceased in the living room with the fatal gunshot wound. The six month old child was not harmed. Ringhardt then carried both children to the grandparent’s house to get help.
Charges were filed against Rinehardt of Abandonment or Endangering a Child and she was arrested at a Vidor residence without incident. If convicted of the State Jail Felony, she faces up to two years in a state jail facility. As of presstime, bond has not yet been set and she remained in the custody of jail officials.
A few hours later, at 6:30 p.m., the OCSO responded to the scene of a second shooting in the 1800 block of Erin Drive. Deputies made contact with the victim, 27-year-old Keith Thomas at the residence. According to reports, the man was cleaning a .22 revolver when the cylinder jammed. When he could not clear the jam, he handed it to his father, 59-year-old Monte Thomas, who also attempted to clear the jam. Both men said the handgun went off while in the father’s hand. The bullet struck the 27-year-old man in the thigh. Acadian Ambulance responded to the scene and the man was transported to St. Elizabeth hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Based on the statements of the witnesses and evidence gathered at the scene, it appeared the shooting incident was accidental.
Melissa Ringhardt pictured above.