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Mother of Black teen killed by Florida deputy is shot during son's burial

The woman, 39, was wounded Saturday as loved ones were gathered at the grave of her son, Sincere Pierce, to say goodbye.
Syndication: Florida Today
Spectators run after a shot was fired during the interment of Sincere Pierce at Riverview Memorial Gardens in Brevard, Fla., on Saturday.Craig Bailey / USA Today Network

The burial service for a Florida teenager fatally shot by a Brevard County sheriff's deputy this month was interrupted by gunfire that injured the teen's mother.

The woman, Quasheda Pierce, 39, was hit in the leg Saturday by a single gunshot from the "accidental discharge" of a concealed weapon, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said. The incident happened during the service for her son, Sincere Pierce, 18, one of the two Black teens fatally shot by a Brevard County deputy during an attempted traffic stop on Nov. 13.

"Initial reports were that a male and female received non-life threatening injuries when shot during a funeral service," sheriff's spokesperson Tod Goodyear said in a statement to NBC News. "The female victim is identified as 39-year-old Quasheda Pierce."

Sincere Pierce in an undated photo.Courtesy Natalie Jackson

Authorities have not released the name of the 16-year-old boy suspected of having accidentally fired the shot. He is not cooperating with law enforcement, the officials said.

"The investigation to date, which includes witness testimony and physical evidence, has determined that the single shot allegedly originated from the 16-year-old who apparently experienced an accidental discharge from a firearm concealed on his person during the funeral service," Goodyear said.

Friends and family were gathered Saturday at Riverview Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Cocoa, 45 miles east of Orlando, to pay their final respects to Sincere Pierce. The pastor had finishing closing remarks and flowers were being placed onto Pierce's casket when the single gunshot threw the 50 mourners into a frenzy, Florida Today reported. Quasheda Pierce was heard yelling as stunned mourners rushed to their vehicles and others stayed to attend to her.

Pierce's injury was non-life-threatening, Goodyear said.

Spectators tend to the injured after a shot was fired during the interment of Sincere Pierce at Riverview Memorial Gardens in Brevard, Fla., on Saturday.Craig Bailey / USA Today Network

The 16-year-old was injured, as well. "The round penetrated and exited his leg prior to impacting Quasheda Pierce's leg," Goodyear said.

On Nov. 13, deputies Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren were investigating a vehicle that they believed might have been stolen and that earlier had fled an attempted traffic stop, Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a Facebook post days after the incident.

Dashcam video released by authorities showed the deputies in pursuit of Pierce and Angelo (AJ) Crooms, 16, driving a car. After the teens' vehicle pulled into a driveway, officers converged with guns drawn. Santiago-Miranda began yelling: "Stop the vehicle!" — and eventually fired multiple shots into the vehicle as it continued moving, killing the teens.

Ivey asserted that Santiago-Miranda, who has been placed on paid administrative leave along with the other officer as the investigation continues, was in "harm's way" and "was forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him."

Goodyear said the sheriff's office would provide no further comment about the investigation, which is being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The deaths of the teens have been decried by those in their Florida community and others across the country calling for police accountability. The teens' families and attorneys — one of whom is the prominent civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump — say the video shows that rather than fleeing Santiago-Miranda, the teens were trying not to hit him.

"Video released by @BrevardSheriff clearly shows AJ Crooms & Sincere Pierce were terrified, trying to drive around cops who approached w/ guns drawn," Crump said Nov. 18 on Twitter. "Out of harm's way, the deputy moved closer to get a better shot, firing w/ intent to kill, then kept firing as the car passed by."

Crump did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. In a tweet Sunday, he said the shooting was a "robbing" of the teens' young lives and called on others to demand justice.

Ivey said in the Facebook post that the investigation was "active and ongoing" and that it would conclude in the next "60-90 days."

As for the shooting Saturday, investigative findings will be presented to the state attorney's office, Goodyear said. He did not say when.