Georgia police are investigating how an 18-month-old boy sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head, according to local reports.
Baby Noah, his three-year-old brother, and several adults were in a bedroom in their home when one of the adults rested a loaded .45-caliber gun on a piece of furniture. Police said one of the toddlers grabbed the loaded gun and pulled the trigger, hitting the youngest boy in the head.
“There were adults in the room at the time, but the adults were not paying attention to what was going on. They did not actually see the incident occur,” Henry County Police Lt. Mike Ireland said.
Ireland added, “They heard a gunshot and then saw the child laying on the bed.”
Paramedics rushed the critically wounded boy to Piedmont Henry Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police are still trying to figure out if the wound was self-inflicted or accidentally committed by the older brother.
The weapon was submitted to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) for fingerprint processing to determine who was in possession of the weapon. The boy’s body was also turned over to the GBI.
The parents could possibly face criminal charges in the death of the young boy.
“It’s a tragic time for all the family members, so we’re allowing everybody to grieve at this time,” Ireland said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.
“The parents have suffered the most terrible loss anyone can endure, and are in need of financial assistance to help with funeral arrangements, potential time off work and care for Noah’s 2 young siblings. Please donate what you can if possible. Thank you,” wrote page creator Joseph Spain.
According to a study by the Washington Post, Georgia has had the most toddler shootings since January 2015, with eight incidents. Researchers found that the southern culture, where gun access is fairly normal, could account for the number.
“These are terrible tragedies and it tears the families apart,” GBI Special Agent Trebor Randall told Atlanta 11 Alive. “No parent intends for their child to die because they access the parent’s owned weapon.”
Georgia’s gun laws do not penalize parents who fail to improperly store a firearm, even if anyone under 18 years old gains access to it. For that reason, Randall implored parents to always be cognizant of their weapons at all times.
“‘Where is my weapon?’ That’s what I would ask you to consider,” she said. “‘Where is that weapon?’ at all times.”