Update: Jordan Palm and Sierra Watts have been charged with a misdemeanor crime for leaving 11-year-old Carter Palm, his 13-year-old brother, and 14 year-old Jadon Vaughn at home alone with two unsecured guns. Jordan Palm is the father of the two boys who survived the shooting. Watts is his girlfriend. State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister could have charged Palm and Watts with felony culpable negligence but opted not to.
On December 26, 2018, the parents of 11 year-old Carter Palm and his 13 year-old brother went out for the night and left the boys home alone in Lake City, Florida with one of their friends, 14 year-old Jadon Vaughn. At some point, Carter and Jadon began to play-wrestle to see if the family dog would respond to Carter being attacked. After that, Carter got a handgun from his parents’ room, removed the magazine, and pointed it at Jadon, not realizing a round was still in the chamber. When he pulled the trigger, the weapon fired, killing Jadon.
The two brothers panicked and placed a kitchen knife near Jadon to make him look like an assailant. That story broke down quickly when sheriff’s deputies arrived, however. The handgun used by Carter was one of two handguns that sheriff’s deputies recovered from the parents’ bedroom in the home. Both were loaded and kept in an unlocked dresser drawer.
The State Attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida, Jeff Siegmeister, quickly brought charges of manslaughter against Carter. But he has not brought any charges against Carter’s gun-owning parent(s) despite their clear violation of Florida’s Child Access Prevention law, which imposes criminal penalties on gun owners who leave firearms accessible to children (age 16 years and under) who use them in a “rude, careless, angry or threatening manner.”
Please contact Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter and State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister through the channels below and give them the following message (personalized to your liking):
Bring charges immediately against the parent who owns the handgun used by 11 year-old Carter Palm to kill 14 year-old Jadon Vaughn in Lake City on December 26, 2018. There were at least two handguns in the home that evening that were immediately accessible to the boys. When Carter retrieved one of them and used it in a “rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner,” that triggered a criminal violation on the part of the adult owner of the weapon under Florida’s Child Access Prevention law (Fla. Stat. § 790.174). It is anathema for you to pin this crime on Carter while absolving the adult guardian(s) who supplied the firearm. This was NOT Carter’s fault. He was modeling behavior seen by his parents, from the moment he started messing around with the gun to the final decision to plant the knife on Jadon in order to claim “self-defense.” These tragic killings of our young people will NEVER end until charges are brought consistently against parents who handle and store firearms negligently. Drop the manslaughter charge against Carter and bring charges against the guardian(s) who owns the two handguns. Send a strong message to other negligent gun owners in surrounding counties that you value children’s’ lives more than reckless, degenerate gun culture. I will be watching your actions in this case very closely.
Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter
Phone: (386) 752-9212
Third Judicial Circuit of Florida State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister
Phone: (386) 758-0470
Once you contacted Sheriff Hunter and State Attorney Siegmeister, fill out the three fields below and click the orange button to report taking action!