A one-year-old boy died in St. Louis, Missouri, on Wednesday after accidentally shooting himself in the head.
Police arrived at the 900 block of Melvin Drive at about 1 p.m. local time, following reports of a shooting.
They found a boy, later identified by police as Khori Patterson, who was heavily bleeding and rushed him to hospital in a police SUV.
St. Louis Police Department Interim Chief Michael Sack explained this was “because the estimated arrival time of the ambulance was going to be too great.”
En route they linked up with an ambulance, which completed the journey to the hospital emergency room.
Police confirmed the child had died on Wednesday. In a statement sent to Newsweek, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said: “Preliminary investigation revealed the victim got ahold of a firearm within the residence and accidentally shot himself. The Child Abuse Unit assumed the ongoing investigation.”
Sack expressed his horror later that day, speaking outside the property where the shooting took place.
He said: “This is just a terrible tragedy that should have never happened.
“Guns are inherently dangerous. There are a number of them in our community. All of us who own firearms or who have firearms must be responsible with their care and their use.”
Sack added that at least one member of the boy’s family was present when the shooting took place, but it’s unclear whether that person was an adult.
Keeping Firearms in a Safe Place
The interim police chief urged parents to keep firearms secure and away from children, noting St. Louis Police Department has free gun locks available for the public.
He commented: “Keeping a gun out of the reach of a small child, while not as safe and secure as a gun lock, is better than leaving it in a low area where a child might be able to access it.”
In a statement sent to local TV network 5 On Your Side, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones expressed her horror at what had taken place.
She said: “Losing a child is the biggest fear of any parent, and we must do everything we can to protect our babies.
“Gun locks are available for pick up at city firehouses, police stations and libraries and I urge parents to get involve with Educators For Gun Safety to learn more.”
Speaking to the network, neighbor Elfirma Furlow added: “It’s just awful to hear that. I also agree if people are going to have guns, they need to lock up their guns.”
In March, a 12-year-old girl in St. Louis fatally shot both herself and her 14-year-old cousin in what their family deemed a “freak accident”.
The two minors were streaming on Instagram Live from a family party when the tragedy occurred.
The Metropolitan Police Department of the City of St. Louis has been contacted for comment.
Update 09/02/22 at 3:09 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to clarify the age of the child and to include additional comment from St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.