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4-year-old boy accidentally kills his younger brother with a gun he thought was a toy

The children’s mother was at home at the time of the fatal shooting. It is not yet clear how the children gained access to the firearm.
UPDATED FEB 21, 2020
(Source:Getty Images)
(Source:Getty Images)

A two-year-old toddler died in Virginia on Tuesday, May 22, after his older brother accidentally shot him with a gun. The older child apparently thought the deadly weapon was a toy, according to the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office. It’s not yet clear how the 4-year-old boy had access to the weapon. The fatal accident comes soon after the devastating Santa Fe High School shooting on May 18.   

The two children were playing on Tuesday morning when the older child fired the gun, hitting his younger brother. Despite being taken to a hospital, the toddler's life could not be saved. The victim has been identified as Tyson Aponte. The authorities have said that the children’s mother was at home at the time of the fatal shooting. It is not yet clear how the children gained access to the firearm.

At least 1,300 children die every year from incidents involving guns.
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

“It’s of paramount importance to make sure your guns are secured and out of the reach of children and everything,” said Major Donald A. Lowe, Chief deputy at the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office. “At least have them unloaded or a safety lock on them, whatever you have to do to keep them from being discharged accidentally.”

According to a CBS 6 report, Lowe urged gun-owners to ensure their firearms are secured and “out of the reach of children.”

Lowe promised that the incident would be “thoroughly investigated”. He also offered his condolences to the grieving family of the young victim and confirmed that the department would do everything within their power to help.

“Our heart breaks for this family,” he said. “They’re devastated, naturally, so we want to do everything we can to help them.”

WTVR spoke to Linda Eddy, a neighbor of the family. According to Eddy, she has been familiar the Aponte family for more than a decade. “There’s no way they would leave a loaded gun out,” she said. “They’re good people, good Christians good people, they take care of their children [and] make sure they have everything they need. I know this is going to be tragic to them.”

Eddy also added that she was unsure how the slain child’s mother would make it through the aftermath of the tragic accident. A number of friends and relatives of the family have also offered their condolences.

“I don’t know how she is going to do it, but she believes in the Lord, so that’s good,” she said.

In March this year, a similar incident had played out. Only in this, police say, a 7-year-old autistic boy accidentally shot his sleeping father in the back in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Authorities have advised that weapons should have a “locking device on the gun itself” in addition to being locked up in a place inaccessible to children.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics last year states that more than 1,000 children are treated in the U.S. each year for accidental gunshot wounds, according to the Miami Herald. Another 4,500 are also treated for assaults, suicides, homicides and other shooting-related causes. The death toll for children who suffer such injuries is at least 1,300.