Texas mother killed by stray bullet fired by neighbour as she slept in bed with son

A Texas woman was killed by a stray bullet when her neighbour opened fire on people breaking into vehicles.

The family of Bethany Mefford, 28, has called the Wednesday shooting that led to her death a “senseless crime.” Mefford, a mother of three, was sleeping inside her apartment complex in the Houston suburb of Humble when she was struck by gunfire around 2.30am.

Her boyfriend, who was in bed with her and their youngest child, only realised she was unresponsive when the alarm went off at 6am, according to local news station KHOU 11.

Mefford was shot in the head by a bullet that had been fired hours earlier by Darius Lewis, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr Lewis, who is being held on a $75,000 bond on manslaughter charges, told authorities that he fired his gun into the ground to scare away burglars breaking into vehicles at the complex. He then fired again because they “were not moving fast enough for him,” an affidavit for his arrest stated.

“It is a horrible thing to have happened to someone that’s laying in their bed, not causing anybody any problems because Bethany never would,” Lana Higinbotham, Mefford’s aunt, told the Associated Press.

“And to just be taken in your sleep, taken away from your family that loves you more than life, it’s a senseless crime.”

Ms Higinbotham said her niece had moved with her parents from Pennsylvania to Texas years ago. She had recently been hired by an oil drilling company.

“It was a great opportunity for them,” the grieving aunt told the AP. “They took it with open arms. As for now, it’s been wonderful, until this.”

The use and role of guns in Texas have been under scrutiny recently amid changes in state law and two recent mass shootings in which 13 people were killed.

Ms Higinbotham said that while she supports gun rights, she believes it is important owners are responsible.

This image provided by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office shows Darius Lewis (Harris County Sheriff's Office)
This image provided by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office shows Darius Lewis (Harris County Sheriff's Office)

“Everybody that I know is very self-conscious and very careful with their weapons,” she said. “I live in Pennsylvania, which is a far cry from Texas. Like it just seems that down there they’re a little less caring as to where they’re pointing or where they’re not even aiming and then just pulling the trigger.”

Texas has some of the most lax gun laws in the country. Most adults are allowed to carry a handgun in a holster both openly and concealed, without a permit. Private firearm dealers in the Lone Star State are not required to conduct background checks before selling, despite three-fourths of Texas supporting such measures, according to Texas Gun Sense