NFL player Joe Mixon was armed but did not open fire in the shooting of a 16-year-old, prosecutors have said.
Deputies with the Hamilton County’s Sheriff Office responded to Mr Nixon’s home on 6 March after witnesses reported hearing shots. A young victim, who was shot in the foot, and other teens were reportedly playing “Nerf wars” with toy guns when the shooting unfolded, WLWT reported.
Prosecutors say Lamonte Brewer, the boyfriend of Mr Nixon’s sister, shot the minor. He faces charges of felonious assault, tampering with evidence and having weapons while under disability, but his whereabouts are unknown.
Mr Mixon’s sister Shalonda Mixon was charged with tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. She has pleaded not guilty.
“The teenager heard multiple shots whizzing by his head and immediately ducked behind a tree fearing for his life,” prosecutor Melissa Powers said. “It’s unbelievable that something like this could happen. It’s hard to fathom how anyone could aim a gun at a child, let alone fire 10 to 11 rounds at him. It’s a miracle he was not killed.”
Prosecutors say Mr Mixon was incorrectly told that there were people with real guns in the backyard of his residence. He then went outside while armed but did not fire any shots.
A spokesperson for Mr Mixon told ESPN the Cincinnati Bengals player had received threats after his address was released in January and was concerned about his safety.
“When another individual discharged a firearm, Joe interceded to stop the person discharging a firearm,” the statement read. “Joe hates that a young adult was injured during this incident.”
The victim was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.
Mr Mixon had been out of town and returned to his home with his sister, her five children, and Mr Brewer on the day of the shooting. Ms Powers said Mr Mixon has a license to carry firearms and did not commit any crimes.
Ms Mixon and Mr Brewer were stopped later that night as they attempted to leave her brother’s residence, according to FOX19.
It is unclear how law enforcement lost track of Mr Brewer.
The principal of the school where the victim attends has warned parents about dart wars, saying the toy guns used in the game can be confused with real weapons.
“Many of the Nerf guns and homemade devices resemble a real gun to a person seeing (them) from afar,” Turpin High School David Spencer said in a statement to The Cincinnati Inquirer. “In the world we live in today, that may cause extreme concern and a certain reaction that was unintended by our young adults.”