A 5-year-old Louisiana girl died on Saturday after she shot herself while playing with a handgun, police said.
Sheriff’s deputies in St. John the Baptist Parish were called to a home in LaPlace at around 9:45 a.m. The child’s father said the girl shot herself while playing with the firearm, the office said in a statement on Facebook.
“The father said he was taking a shower when he heard a gunshot,” sheriff’s Lt. Greg Baker told NBC affiliate WDSU-TV in New Orleans. “He got out of the shower, and that’s when he discovered that his daughter had accidentally shot herself.”
Baker stressed that parents who own guns need to be cautions.
“Safety, everything is safety. If you’re the owner of a weapon, buy a safe box, a gun safe. That’s the way it is. Teach your kids. Teach your family about it,” he said.
Five-year-old Haley Moore was playing with the gun, police said, adding that her father told them he left his .45-caliber pistol out on a table at home, the report said.
Haley was rushed to the hospital but died of her injuries. The gun was unsecured, the sheriff’s office said, citing detectives.
“He’s devastated,” neighbor Joy Ursin said of the child’s father, Eric Moore. “We’ve spoken to him since. He’s devastated.”
Officials are still investigating the shooting. LaPlace is a city of around 30,000 about 30 miles from New Orleans.
“The oldest kid, she repeatedly said, ‘My sister shot herself. My sister shot herself. I don’t know if she’s going to be OK,'” Ursin told WDSU.
According to Everytownresearch.com, a gun safety organization, an average of 62 kids under the age of 14 were accidentally shot and killed in unintentional shootings each year. But, it stressed, that “federal data substantially [undercounts] these deaths.”
Federal data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that between 2007 and 2011, an average of 62 children age 14 and under died each year in unintentional shootings. By this measure, American children are sixteen times more likely to be killed in unintentional shootings than their peers in other high-income countries.
The organization added:
About two-thirds of these unintended deaths — 65 percent — took place in a home or vehicle that belonged to the victim’s family, most often with guns that were legally owned but not secured. Another 19 percent took place in the home of a relative or friend of the victim.
More than two-thirds of these tragedies could be avoided if gun owners stored their guns responsibly and prevented children from accessing them. Of the child shooting deaths in which there was sufficient information available to make the determination, 70 percent (62 of 89 cases) could have been prevented if the firearm had been stored locked and unloaded. By contrast, incidents in which an authorized user mishandled a gun — such as target practice or hunting accidents — constituted less than thirty percent of the incidents.