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2-year-old nephew finds deputy’s unsecured gun and shoots self, Missouri cops say

Kansas City Star
A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot himself at a family party after stumbling upon a deputy’s unsecured gun, Missouri cops say.

The toddler wandered off at the party into his uncle’s room, finding the St. Louis sheriff’s deputy’s gun under a pillow, Ferguson police told McClatchy News.

He suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen, according to police. The 2-year-old was taken to a nearby urgent care and then a hospital.

As of March 21, Ferguson police say the toddler is recovering and expected to be home soon.

The deputy, who was not named by police, was arrested on suspicion of endangering the welfare of a child, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was then released.

Police say they are currently in the process of completing paperwork to charge the deputy with endangering the welfare of a child. The case is expected to be filed on March 21.

“We are praying for (the child’s) complete recovery,” St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “This tragic accident is exactly why I mandate weapons safety training and safe storage including gun locks.”

Ferguson police stressed the importance of securing firearms and adopting gun safety practices.

“”In the wake of the distressing incident where a two-year-old child accidentally shot himself with an unsecured firearm, our community is reminded of the urgent necessity for stringent gun safety,” police said in a Facebook post. “We are all saddened by this tragic incident and our thoughts and prayers are certainly with this family. Thankfully, the child survived, but the emotional scars of this event will linger.”

Ferguson is about a 10-mile drive northwest from downtown St. Louis.

Gun violence in the US

Thousands of people die every year from firearm injuries in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Firearm injuries are a serious public health problem,” officials said. “In 2020, there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States – that’s about 124 people dying from a firearm-related injury each day.”

Firearm-related injuries were one of the top leading causes of death for people ages 1 to 44 in 2020, the CDC reported.

“More than half of firearm-related deaths were suicides and more than 4 out of every 10 were firearm homicides,” the CDC says.

The impact of gun violence, however, goes beyond the death toll.

“The effects of firearm violence extend beyond victims and their families,” according to the CDC. “Shooting incidents, including those in homes, schools, houses of worship, workplaces, shopping areas, on the street or at community events can affect the sense of safety and security of entire communities and impact everyday decisions.”

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