A heartbreaking incident occurred in DeLand, Florida, on Wednesday evening when a 3-year-old boy found a 9 mm handgun in his father’s nightstand and fatally shot himself. The child and his 7-year-old sibling were under the care of their 16-year-old sister while the parents were out grocery shopping. The gun discharged, and the child shot himself in the face, according to a statement from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood called the situation “one of the worst calls imaginable” during a press conference on Thursday. The 16-year-old sister made a frantic 911 call reporting the tragedy, with screams and cries in the background. The family had a second gun on top of the fridge, but the father’s gun was usually kept in a safe that was not functioning correctly.
The family’s father is a state corrections officer, and the guns were not department-issued. No charges have been filed at this time. According to Florida law, if a child is accidentally shot, “no arrest shall be made prior to 7 days after the date of the shooting.”
Chitwood expressed his sadness over the situation and urged gun owners to be responsible for their firearms. He stressed the importance of keeping guns secured, particularly when there are children in the home.
The incident highlights the need for gun safety and properly storing firearms in homes with children. According to Everytown Research, a gun safety advocacy group, on average, 100 children in the United States are unintentionally shot and killed each year. In one-third of homes with children and firearms, the guns are stored loaded and unlocked.
This tragedy is a sobering reminder of the importance of gun safety and taking responsibility for firearms.