Mountain Home Police are investigating how a 5-year-old boy got his hands on a gun, and then accidentally shot a teenager as he was walking by.
The 16-year-old boy who was shot had to be taken by air ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise where is listed in serious condition.
The bullet hit him in the back on his left side, and exited through his stomach on the right side.
Police say a 5-year-old boy found a gun inside his home near the intersection of N. 10th and Jackson in Mountain Home and brought it outside to play.
The semi-automatic 9-millimeter gun went off and a bullet struck the teenager -- who was some 75 yards away.
The teen was on his lunch break from Mountain Home High School and was walking to a nearby Maverick convenience store.
When officers arrived, he was lying on the sidewalk.
Police say the 5-year-old was not home alone, his mother was inside cleaning and had no idea her son had taken the gun.
When she heard it go off, she came running outside -- obviously distraught.
"Oh, it's just heart-wrenching. I mean the first thing you think about is: it could have been anybody and also you think about immediately why wasn't the gun secured? I mean, you definitely want the firearm to be secured and definitely not loaded where something like this could happen," Mountain Home Sgt. Rick Viola said.
Police say both of the 5-year old's parents could be charged with child endangerment, which is a felony. That decision will not be made until the investigation is done.
Police are also looking at whether the gun was properly registered.
They say this is a reminder for parents to keep their guns unloaded, locked and out of a child's reach.
They also say if anyone has any questions about gun safety, that local police departments are always willing to help.
Mountain Home Police also offers free gun locks. They want people to take advantage of their help to prevent shootings like this from happening.
Owners of firearms are responsible at all times to secure their weapons away from children. Even locks on weapons have been found on occasion to be insufficient from keeping keep children from being able to fire them.
In order to protect children in a household where a firearm is present, the owner should purchase a gun safe or gun vault such as the one displayed above. Had the owner secured their weapon in a gun vault or safe, this accident would not have occurred. Gun vaults range in price but for a 9mm such as the one used in this case, a gun vault would cost as low as $60.00 to $80.00 (tax not included). See, e.g., http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/pod/standard-pod-wrapped.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/pod-link.jsp_A&_DAV=null-cat20799&rid=&indexId=cat20799&navAction=push&masterpathid=&navCount=0&parentType=index&parentId=cat20799&id=0039832.
The safest way to protect children is to not keep a firearm at home in the first place. But if you feel that you need to do so, you have an obligation to keep the weapon and its ammunition away from children.
Unfortunately, now the owner of the weapon used in this incident and/or parents of the 5 yr-old may face criminal charges for child endangerment due to their lack of foresight in taking sufficient measures to prevent the 5 yr-old from being able to have access to the firearm. This accident was completely avoidable had the owner of the weapon and/or parent's of the home where the weapon was located had taken measures to store the weapon away from the child's access. Shootings like this happen each year, but can be avoided by taking simple measures.
CONTACT INFORMATION: If you or a family member have been injured or damaged due to the fault or responsibility of someone else, an industrial accident or by a dangerous or defective product, drug or toxic substance, contact Alan Morton for a no obligation, free consultation.
For additional information contact:
Alan L. Morton
MORTON LAW OFFICES, CHARTERED
1005 North Eighth Street
Post Office Box 420
Boise, ID 83701-0420
Toll Free: 866.946.1669 [866.WIN.1.NOW]