CHICAGO • A simple childish spat over a puppy led to an 11-year-old boy shooting and killing his eight-year-old neighbour in the US state of Tennessee.
Ms Latasha Dyer said her daughter was playing outside when the boy asked to see her puppy.
Little McKayla said "no", and shortly after was shot in the chest.
The boy was inside his home when he shot the girl with his father's 12-gauge shotgun last Saturday, said Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig.
The gun was legally owned.
"When we first moved to White Pine, the little boy was bullying McKayla," Ms Dyer told TV station WATE 6 on Sunday.
"He was making fun of her, calling her names, just being mean to her. I had to go the principal about him and he quit for a while and then all of a sudden yesterday he shot her," she said.
Ms Dyer was overcome with emotion as she spoke to the local television station from the front steps of a home in White Pine, Tennessee.
"I want her back in my arms, this is not fair. Hold and kiss your babies every night because you're never promised the next day with them," she said.
"I hope the little boy learnt his lesson because he took my baby's life - and I can't get her back."
She described her daughter as "a precious little girl".
"She was a mommy's girl, no matter how bad of a mood you were in she could always make you smile," she said.
Sheriff McCoig said the boy has been charged with first degree murder. A judge ordered him held at a juvenile detention centre until the next hearing, which is set for Oct 28, the sheriff said.
"It's a tragic incident we've had that an 11-year-old would take an eight-year-old's life," he said.
The small town is reeling, but the local school and churches are helping people come to grips with the "shocking instance", he said.
"The two were neighbours and in this neighbourhood all the children would play together and knew each other and all attended school together," the sheriff added.
He declined to release further details, explaining that five other children live in the boy's home and two other children live in the girl's home and "we're trying to protect them, as much as they've been hurt by this tragedy".
"Our prayers are with the families that are involved in the tragic incident," he said.
Neighbour Chasity Arwood was watching football when she heard a shot ring out and was horrified to see the little girl bleeding to death in the grass.
"That weapon should have been under lock and key, or at least out of hand's reach," Ms Arwood told WBIR TV news.
"Trying to comfort her mama and her aunt and her grandma, and her grandpa and her sister and her brother: it's the hardest thing I've ever done."
Neighbours who were caring for the family's puppies said they seemed to be looking for the girl. One could be seen lying morosely next to a makeshift memorial of balloons, flowers and stuffed animals on the steps of the family's mobile home.