Police in Indianapolis are investigating how a 3-year-old boy came to grab a loaded gun off a kitchen counter in his family home Saturday evening and shoot himself in the head with it.
The toddler was rushed to nearby children’s hospital where he died later than night.
The child has not been publicly identified, but police have already decided that the shooting was an accident — the latest in a horrifying string of more than a dozen accidental shootings of children in Central Indiana over the past five years.
While no charges have been brought against the child’s parents, or anyone, in the case, that could change after police figure out how and why the gun was left loaded and left out where a 3-year-old could reach it. Police also want to know exactly who owned the gun.
The type of gun involved in the heartbreaking tragedy has also not yet been made public.
The family has a 4-year-old daughter who was home, as were both parents, at the time the boy accidentally killed himself.
As described in a report that ran this morning in the Indianapolis Star, the house where the shooting took place stands out on its block, the 1800 section of 68th St. in the city, for its high chain-link fence, padlocked shut and adorned with “Keep Out” signs, and thick foliage obscuring a view of the home from the street.
Though the shooting was apparently an accident, felony charges could still be brought against the boy’s parents.
“But there would have to be quite a bit of evidence that the parents knew the gun was there and the child had access to it,” said Indiana University law school professor Joel Schumm.
Among other recent incidents in the Indianapolis area, a boy shot and killed his 6-year-old brother in 2012 with a rifle left unsecured by his mother. The mother was sentenced to an eight-year prison term.
And in 2008, an Indianapolis man also received eight years for leaving a loaded gun on a bookcase where his 5-year-old son grabbed it and shot his 4-year-old sister, killing the little girl.
SOURCES: Indianapolis Star, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel