In a shocking incident, a two-year-old shot his parents and wounded himself with a gun that he picked up from his parents’ nightstand on Wednesday morning, the police said.
The toddler’s 25-year-old father was hit in the head and his 22-year-old mother in the leg. The incident happened at the couple’s home at New Meadows Road in West Bath, Maine, just before 8 am on Wednesday.
Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry told the media that the toddler picked up the handgun that was on the nightstand and shot his father and mother and was struck by the recoil of the gun in his face.
All three were taken to Mid Coast Hospital for treatment and police have confirmed that the family is now safe. Mr Merry confirmed that the injuries were not life-threatening.
He also added that the boy’s face injury “was minor and, to my understanding, he was immediately released.”
The couple’s other three-week-old baby, the Press Herald reported, was also present in the room at the time of the incident but wasn’t harmed. The infant has been handed over to his grandmother who the police said also lived in the same house but was not present there at the time of the shooting.
Mr Merry said: “The question of how the boy was able to pick up and fire the weapon is of great concern and is being investigated. This situation, while disturbing, could have had an even more tragic ending.”
He added: “We are thankful that the injuries were not more serious.”
The weapon has been identified by the police as a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
The Sagadahoc County District Attorney’s Office is meanwhile investigating the incident with the local police.
The police haven’t revealed the identities of those injured in the incident to the media.
The incident has left the community in shock. WGME quoted Bath resident Matt Ferrel as saying: “I know people want to stay protected and safe in their homes, but what happened here is really the opposite of that.”
Another resident Robin Buczkowski told the media: “A parent should know better than to leave a loaded gun anywhere that a child can get to it. For whatever reason, that did not happen in this particular case.”
Mr Merry also said that even though such incidents are rare, “they should be taken as a warning to the public to ensure firearms are kept in a locked, secure location out of reach of children.” He said: “In the 12 years I’ve been sheriff, we’ve never had a situation like this.” He warned: “If you have children, you really should be securing any firearm in a locked closet or cabinet or have a trigger lock.”
In 2018, 4,775 young people ages 10-24 were victims of homicide — an average of 13 each day. And 1.7 million children in the US live with unlocked, loaded guns — 1 out of 3 homes with kids have guns, as per a study by the Center for Violence Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.