The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an unintentional shooting that occurred this past weekend when a 3-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her 4-year-old sister. Police officers were sent to the family’s apartment on Sunday night after reports of an unresponsive child that had been shot.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez briefed the media of the incident around 9 p.m. on Sunday – calling the incident both ‘tragic’ and ‘preventable.’ There were allegedly five adults in the apartment, including the mother and father of the two children. At the time of the shooting, the children were left unattended and unsupervised.
“At some point, it appears that one parent thought the other parent was watching the children, when in fact the two toddlers were left unsupervised inside the bedroom,” Gonzalez explained, adding that the 3-year-old gained access to a ‘loaded semi-automatic pistol’ before a gunshot was heard by the others.
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The parents immediately ran into the bedroom after hearing the gunshot, which is where they found the 4-year-old on the floor and unresponsive. They secured the weapon and called 911, who responded to the home fairly quickly. Once they arrived at the home, the 4-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gonzalez emphasized that the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is still in the preliminary phases of the investigation and they still had more people to talk to, but reiterated that the shooting involved a 3-year-old and 4-year-old that were presumed to be siblings. The 3-year-old was the alleged shooter and it appeared to be unintentional.
“It just seems like another tragic story of, again, a child gaining access to a firearm and hurting someone else, and this time it was a fatal shot – that’s the information we have at this point,” Gonzalez continued. There are no charges pending as of now, but Gonzalez said that is very likely to change in the future.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sends Reminder to Gun Owners
As the investigation continues and the district attorney decides whether to press charges against any of the adults in the home at the time, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wants gun owners to make sure they’re keeping their family safe by properly and discreetly securing weapons in their home.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re a responsible gun owner. Secure your weapons in a safe place. It’s got to be more than just to tell the kids not to touch the weapons,” he said. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened this year – in fact, it’s becoming far too common in the US today.
According to the #NotAnAccident Index by Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been ‘at least 58 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 22 deaths and 37 injuries nationally’ and six of them have occurred in the state of Texas – a strong majority of them have occurred on the East Coast.
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Those numbers are very concerning, considering we’re only three months into the year, but not surprising when you look at trends over the past few years. In 2022, ‘there were at least 353 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 156 deaths and 212 injuries nationally,’ according to the same report.
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