Story highlights

Preteen faces first-degree murder charges in the death of girl, 8

The boy used his father's shotgun, sheriff says

(CNN) —  

A little girl killed, allegedly because of a puppy.

The preteen faces first-degree murder charges in the death of MaKayla “BooBah” Dyer, 8.

He fired at her from his house Saturday, killing the girl who was in her yard, Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig told The Washington Post.

Where did he get a gun?

The boy used his father’s 12-gauge shotgun, which he got from an unlocked closet, the sheriff told the paper.

He is being held on a first-degree murder charge in a juvenile detention center. The center’s superintendent, Richard Bean, said the boy is the youngest held there on a murder charge in his 44-year career. Bean described him as “very tiny,” weighing about 55 pounds.

He is in a regular “pod” that holds up to 16 other juveniles between ages 12 and 17.

’Most pitiful case’

The incident started when the boy asked to see the girl’s puppy, McCoig said.

When she said no, the boy shot her dead, according to the sheriff.

Jefferson County District Attorney James Dunn told CNN his office will determine whether it believes the boy should be tried as an adult, acknowledging that there would be a “heavy burden” to convince a judge to transfer the case out of juvenile court.

The public defender in the case, Edward Miller, told CNN affiliate WATE that “the court has ordered my client detained until (an October 28) hearing.” He did not offer more comments beyond that.

“It is the most pitiful case on both sides,” Bean said.

Uncle: A ‘lovable … and typical 8-year old girl’

According to her obituary, MaKayla died just three weeks removed from her 8th birthday.

Her mother, Latasha Dyer, choked back tears as she talked about her daughter.

“I want her back home, I want her back in my arms,” she said. “This is not fair.”

Her death has rattled the small town of White Pine, which is 40 miles east of Knoxville.

“She was a lovable, little, adorable and typical 8-year old girl that enjoyed life and loved everybody,” great-uncle Kenneth Norton told CNN. ” She didn’t know (any) strangers … and anytime that you were doing anything … she wanted to be a part of it.”

She will be buried Thursday at 2 p.m. in Luttrell, Tennessee.

Her death shook up many in White Pine, a small town of just over 2,000 people located 40 miles east of Knoxville.

CNN’s Faith Karimi reported and wrote from Atlanta, and CNN’s Victor Blackwell reported from Tennessee. CNN’s Gigi Mann and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.