A 62-year-old Indiana man died Feb. 21 after his 6-year-old son fired a handgun by accident.
James E. Lonaker was found at his home by detectives with a gun shot wound and died while being flown to hospital, WRTV reported.
Lonaker was sitting at his desk at the time, and reportedly did not notice that the child had found the weapon.
“Many firearms accidents in the home can be prevented simply by making sure that firearms are kept unloaded and safely stored with ammunition secured in a separate location,” Sheriff Matt Myers Told WRTV. “Please keep your guns in a secure location out of reach of children.”
Lonaker’s wife, and his 1-year-old son, were at home when the shooting occurred but were unharmed.
James Lonaker, another son of Lonaker, said his father was well known locally for establishing a boxing gym.
“Anybody that wanted to come and work out whether they had any money to pay for the uniforms, my dad provided shoes, clothes, anything. Roofs over their head. He could not stand for kids to go without,” James told WRTV.
James added that his father had a good sense of humor.
“He had a magnetic personality, and people were drawn to him. And he has a lot of people he knows and a lot of people that love him and we’re all just in shock over the situation,” he added.
Indiana State Police released advice on storing firearms in the home, including keeping them in a locked safe or box, making sure weapons are unloaded before storage, always handling them as if they were loaded and ensuring children and unauthorized users cannot access them. Police also suggested that owners never put their finger on the trigger until ready to shoot and always point the weapon in a safe direction.
The number of deaths resulting from children accidentally firing weapons is high. In October, the Washington Post reported that deaths caused by accidental gun shots fired by children under the age of three occurred at a rate of around one per week in 2015.
Of the 43 deaths involving guns fired by children under three years of age which had occurred by Oct. 14, 2015, 31 resulted in the death of the child who pulled the trigger.
Lonaker’s death came just days after a Las Vegas man was arrested because his 12-year-old son accidentally shot himself.
Olin Manuel was charged with child abuse with substantial bodily harm resulting in death, and unauthorized possession of a firearm over the Feb. 13 incident.