Child killed in shooting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2006

There are still a lot of questions to be answered in the accidental shooting that claimed the life of a Eutaw two-year-old in the Branch Heights community Friday.

Though police are unable to release the name of the youth killed in the shooting, Eutaw Police Chief Reginald Spencer confirmed Monday the incident took place Friday night.

Many of the details of the case are still under investigation, Spencer said. The child was still alive when he arrived at the hospital, Spencer said, but his injuries eventually took their toll.

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“Right now, we are still investigating it, but the preliminary investigators found that there were three kids playing with a gun,” Spencer said. “The child was shot accidentally and taken to Greene County hospital. They worked and worked to try to revive him, but couldn’t.”

The child was shot in the abdomen by a .22 pistol after two two-year-old and a four-year old were playing in the room. Spencer said there were as many as three or four adults in the house doing various things when the incident occurred.

One of the key questions in the case is “how did the children get the gun?” Spencer said in their initial investigation, no clear answer has come out.

“That is still under investigation,” Spencer said. “Right now we are still looking into that to see how the gun got there. The mother said she had no knowledge of how the gun got in the house period. It wasn’t supposed to be there.”

The ages of the children involved, Spencer said, have also made the investigation difficult.

“We don’t really know which child pulled the trigger,” Spencer said. “There were three of them in there and it has been hard to really talk to children that young. It’s not really clear which child pulled the trigger.”

Further interviews with the mother were cut short over the weekend when officers returned to the scene of the shooting and discovered she was gone. Spencer said they planned to find her and conduct further interviews. He also said they planned to work with the Department of Human Resources in the investigation. Spencer said DHR was called immediately and the planned to keep them involved.

Hopefully, Spencer said, DHR can help the children paint a clearer picture of what happened.

“It is really difficult to deal with kids this young and try to get exactly what happened,” Spencer said. “All we can really find out from the adults is who was in the room. Then you have a two year old and a four year old that you have to try to get together what happened.”

The incident, Spencer said, was a tragic reminder for parents to use extreme caution when bringing a gun into their home. He urged parents and guardians to take advantage of free resources from law enforcement offices.

“I am urging all parents and caretakers of small children to make every effort you can to make sure there is no firearm within any child’s reach,” Spencer said. “We also, at the police department and Sheriff’s department have a free gunlock program. We have been giving them away for the past few years to anyone that wants them free of charge. We will be happy to give them to anyone.”