A mother is grieving over the loss of her 9-month-old baby, who died after her 5-year-old son found a loaded revolver Monday morning in their home in Elmo, Missouri, and accidentally shot the baby in the head.
The Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White said he received the frantic call just before 9 a.m. Monday. White said the young mother said she needed an ambulance because her 5-year-old had just shot her 9-month-old with a paintball gun, but when authorities arrived, they discovered that it wasn’t a paintball gun but rather a .22-caliber revolver, which was found lying near the baby’s crib, a local Fox affiliate reported.
The baby was airlifted to a Kansas City hospital, but died a few hours later.
Authorities later determined that the baby had been in a crib when the 5-year-old found the loaded gun, which was somewhere on a shelf of the headboard in the master bedroom. It’s not known at this time to whom the gun belonged, but according to KCTV, it was not the mother’s.
Neighbor Kathy Armentrout said the mother, who has four small boys ages five, three, one and a half, and nine months, was home alone when the incident unfolded and, not knowing at the time what had occurred, she ran to the house to help with the other kids as soon as she saw the paramedics and police arriving.
“They’re a very good family,” Armentrout said. “This was a tragedy. It’s a sad deal. I just hope everybody prays for them.”
Armentrout added that the children are still very young and most likely didn’t understand exactly what was happening.
The tragedy has other neighborhood residents rethinking safety and those with small children holding their young ones a little tighter.
“You know, just some gun safety could have come into play, and would have maybe, you know, prevented the situation,” said neighbor Jessica Hutchison. “But it’s just really sad, altogether.”
Don Pind, of Professional Firearms Consultants, said there’s no reason why a young child should ever have access to a gun.
“The parents need to keep them away from it. Lock them up,” Pind said, adding that most law enforcement offices have gun locks available for free.
The mother’s other three children are now in the custody of relatives.
White said the incident appears to be an accident and no foul play is expected. No charges have been filed at this time, but the investigation is ongoing and the county prosecutor will put together a child fatality review board – made up of law enforcement, children’s services and hospital personnel – to ultimately determine whether any charges will be filed.