Two-year-old toddler shoots and kills himself with loaded gun kept under pillow at Georgia home
Police have ruled the shooting accidental but are investigating further, with both parents said to be cooperating.
A two-year-old tragically shot and killed himself with a handgun that was kept under a pillow at his home, say police in Jonesboro, Georgia.
The incident is said to have occurred last Thursday, November 15, with officers from the Clayton County Police Department responding to the residence on 300 block of Blackhawk Trail over reports of a child being shot.
According to NBC News, the responding deputies found a toddler with a gunshot wound to the body. Capt. Scott Stubbs, a spokesman for the department, said that the toddler, who has not been identified, entered a room where his father was sleeping and found the handgun under a pillow. The mother was also asleep in the front room during the incident.
The infant then pulled the trigger and fired one shot that seriously injured him, following which he was rushed to an area hospital by the Clayton County Emergency Management Services. However, his injuries would prove fatal, and the two-year-old was declared dead a short while later.
Stubbs said the police department was currently conducting a "fact-finding" investigation and that the toddler's parents — 31-year-old Jonathan Butler and 24-year-old Naterika Pearman — were cooperating with authorities. Investigators reportedly believe that the gunshot wound was accidental and self-inflicted.
Accidents such as these are not as uncommon as one might assume, according to a report by the Children's Hospital of Philadephia Research Institute. The hospital estimates that 1.7 million children in the country live in homes where the weapons are kept loaded and unlocked, with 90 percent of accidental shooting deaths amongst children at home occurring when the child plays with the weapon while the parent isn't at home.
Stubbs concurred with the investigators' preliminary finding and said the shooting was "just an unfortunate, devastating situation." The Macon Telegraph reported his comments from a press conference where he said both parents were "devastated" but that such situations were devastating not just for the family, but also the emergency responders who arrive to help.
“We always encourage everyone, if you have small children or anybody that can get access to a firearm, that you use necessary precautions to keep that firearm safe,” Stubbs said.
The spokesman also said that the case would be reviewed by the District Attorney's Office, which will then decide whether any charges are going to be filed against the parents. A medical examiner is expected to perform an autopsy on the body, which will likely further aid investigators in conclusively ruling the death as an accident.
Video of the police press conference over the toddler's death.