Mother Arrested for Firing Warning Shot to Stop Assault on Daughter

A Virginia mother was arrested last week for firing a warning shot in the air to scare away a group of boys who were assaulting her daughter.

Lakisha Gaither, 35, told NBC Washington she had gone with her daughter, 15-year-old Brianna Stewart, to visit the Woodbridge home of a girl who had arrived at Gaither's house earlier that Saturday with a group of male teens.

Concerned that her daughter might be in danger, Gaither sought to defuse the situation by speaking with the girl's mother.

But once at the apartment complex on Gable Ridge Turn, Gaither and Brianna were again confronted by the same group of teens.

The situation quickly turned violent, with one of the boys allegedly punching Brianna in the face and breaking her glasses.

Gaither says the punches kept coming, so, fearing the worst, she pulled out her gun and fired a single warning shot.

"Because I do open carry, because I'm a registered gun owner and I open carry everywhere I go, I walked out to the middle of the parking lot where I was away from everybody, not near anybody, not near the buildings or anything, and I unholstered my weapon, held it straight up in the air and shot straight in the air, one shot, to get him off of my child and to break this group up," Gaither told News4.

Responding to a call of shots fired, police officers soon arrived on the scene and arrested Gaither for reckless handling of a firearm.

After being released from jail a few hours later, Gaither decided to send Brianna to stay at her grandmother's house until the situation calmed down.

"I didn't want them retaliating," she said.

But Sunday morning, Gaither got a call from her mother telling her Brianna was missing.

It's been almost a week since, and there is still no word on Brianna's whereabouts.

"I don't know where she [is]," Gaither said through tears. " don't know if she's OK; I don't know if she's safe; I don't know if she's hurt."

Prince William County police have released a description of the girl, listing her as 5'9", 160 pounds, with dimples on her cheeks.

They are asking anyone with information to contact them at 703-792-6500.

Update 5:40 p.m.: Gaither has just posted a status update on Facebook suggesting Brianna has been found.

[H/T: Opposing Views, screengrab via NBC Washington]