Grandfather of girl who lost hand when she lit his illegal explosive could still face federal charges

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 02, 2024

RIVER ROUGE, Mich. (WXYZ) — River Rouge Police were surprised that the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office declined to bring criminal charges against the man they said left an illegal explosive where his 11-year-old twin granddaughters could get to it.

RELATED STORY: 11-year-old injured by explosive device, lost hand in River Rouge

11-year-old injured by explosive device, lost hand in River Rouge

One of the girls lit what she thought was a firework and the explosion caused her to lose her right hand and left her with a hole in her eardrum. Both girls also suffered burns in the explosion that left their home uninhabitable.

"I'm just glad she's alive," said Jaminique Conway, mother of the twin girls, who was not at home at the time of the explosion. "It was an accident. My daddy would never hurt my children."

Conway told 7 News Detroit that her father feels horrible and that she does not want him to face criminal charges. She also said she has not asked her father what kind of explosive it was or where he even obtained it.

"I'm just not going to talk to him about it. I'm just glad she's alive," said Conway. "As a family, we're going to move past it and unite instead of divide."

Detectives in River Rouge are sending the remaining material from the explosive to a Michigan State Police laboratory for testing.

Conway has provided 7 News with photos of the damage the explosion caused to the home she was renting.

One person who lives nearby but declined to go on camera said they were disappointed that the grandfather of the girls was not charged.

A spokesperson for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office released the following statement: This was a tragic incident. However, the case against the suspect was denied due to insufficient evidence to prove he had custody, care and control of the victim at the time of the incident.

But that doesn't mean the grandfather of the girls is in the clear.

River Rouge Police have been in contact with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It's unclear if federal agents are going to take the case, but it is still under investigation.

One neighbor who called 911 said hearing the twin girls screaming and seeing the severe injury to one of their hands was every mother's worst nightmare. "It was gut-wrenching to just stand here and not know what to do."

Conway said her daughter who lost her hand, Caitlyn, is in good spirits and preparing for physical therapy.

And as people prepare to set off actual fireworks for the 4th of July, Conway urges adults to use caution.

"Be responsible. Keep your kids close," she said.

One neighbor who is like family to Conway and her girls said it's important for parents and other adults to talk to their children about the importance of not playing with any flame source or firework without supervision.

"Just like you wouldn't have a loaded gun sitting out, fireworks are no different," Erica Dickerson said. "Don't have them sitting out accessible to children."

With Conway's permission, River Rouge Police started a GoFundMe to help her and her girls with alternate housing as well as any medical needs for Caitlyn that may not covered.

Investigators are also asking that anyone with information about the explosion, contact the River Rouge Public Safety Department at (313)842-8700.

7 News Detroit has made attempts to contact the girls' grandfather but we've been unable to reach him.

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