A 5-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his brother after finding a gun while playing in the woods in Griffin, Georgia, police say. Police responded to the scene on May 9, and discovered a 12-year-old male victim with a gunshot wound to his chest. Officers provided CPR until the arrival of an ambulance crew, who transported the child to the hospital, where he died of his injuries.
According to a press release from the City of Griffin Police Department, investigators pieced together what happened from information including the accounts of the victims' siblings. The 5-year-old told officers he found a gun in the woods near the location of the shooting. That child thought the gun was a toy, and he accidentally discharged it, striking his brother in the chest, the police statement said.
Now, officers are focused on finding those suspected of abandoning the firearm in the woods. Just about two hours before the shooting occurred, officers said they attempted a traffic stop in the area and the suspects fled behind houses, near where the shooting took place.
The officers searched the area and found what they believed to be a bag of the drug MDMA, but did not find a weapon at that time. Officers later made contact with the driver, and police say that person provided information for the investigation.
"The weapon and child's clothing were collected and will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab for analysis for touch DNA to further who has possessed and touched the weapon and the clothing will be subject to a Gun Shot Residue analysis based on GBI discretion," the press release reads. "The Griffin Police Department continues to investigate this case and all information has not be obtained but the facts and circumstances discovered lead to strong hypothesis, substantiated by evidence that this is a tragic accident."
The department said it will pursue charges against those responsible for the weapon getting into the hands of "these innocent children."
"Our hearts cry out for this family during this time of tragic loss," the statement continues. Chief Mike Yates says, "We will leave no stone unturned as we search for individuals responsible for the abandonment of this weapon."
During the months of March and April, deadly unintentional shootings by children increased 43% compared to average gun deaths during the same two months over the last three years, according to data analyzed by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. The "alarming uptick" coincided with a time span that gun sales were surging during coronavirus lockdowns and children were spending all day at home.
Gun safety advocates have feared that with schools closed and children experiencing boredom and isolation in quarantine, kids would be at an increased risk of finding unsecured guns in their homes. Those concerns have only increased with historically high gun sales in March and April. Now, they say, the data suggests that their fears are becoming a grim reality.
Erin Donaghue contributed to this report.
First published on May 13, 2020 / 10:11 AM
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