A 7-year-old Tennessee boy was killed Monday inside a parked car, shot by his brother by accident.
Around 3 p.m. in Crossville, Tennessee, an unnamed mom — visiting from a neighboring county — went to a local Verizon store to pay a bill, NBC News reported.
She and her husband, reportedly the step-father of the boy who was killed, went into the store together, leaving their four kids inside the car to wait in the parking lot, unattended.
Two of these children were verified by the Knoxville News Sentinel to be brothers.
It’s not clear how long the adults were inside the store. What is clear is that the mom left her purse behind while she ran the brief errand. And inside her purse was a loaded semi-automatic pistol.
Media reports indicate that the boy’s sibling was not playing with the gun. According to WBIR, police said that the child found the weapon in his mother’s purse and actually tried to unload it by removing the magazine.
Sadly, in the process, the gun accidentally discharged and a bullet struck his 7-year-old brother. The child was shot in the head.
Officers arrived to find him bleeding from the head, WATE added, and he was flown immediately by helicopter to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, which is located in nearby Knoxville.
Later that night about 8:45 p.m., the boy succumbed to his injuries. Though the hospital didn’t appear to release the ongoing status of the 7-year-old’s condition, police said that his case had been very serious from the start.
Police in Crossville, Tennessee, described the incident as a “tragic accidental shooting.”
Neither the parents, the boy killed, his brother, nor the other kids in the car at the time of the shooting have been identified by police or news media.
Now, of course, local law enforcement and child services have lots of questions.
The Sentinel later reported in an update that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services haven’t taken any of the 7-year-old’s siblings into custody. The unidentified family reportedly had no previous history with child services, either.
However, three children — a boy, 8, and two girls, 9 and 4 months — are staying with family and not their parents since their brother, 7, was killed.
It’s not clear whether the mom has a gun permit. The make and model of the semi-automatic have also not been released.
Both the District Attorney General’s Office and DCS are continuing to investigate, but so far, law enforcement hasn’t decided whether charges will be filed in this case.
According to NBC News, gun violence is most commonly perpetrated against children.
The news outlet did an analysis of data last month, which examined statistics since the December 2012 shooting of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. In a stunning stat, the analysis found that since that year, at least 555 kids under the age of 12 were killed by guns, either intentionally or by accident.
According to the report, the real number is likely much higher since suicides are often not reported and sometimes, gun-related deaths are not reported either. NBC determined that 555 deaths tally to one child killed every two days by guns in the U.S. Some data suggests that the violence has gotten worse since Sandy Hook.
Among both kids and young teens, the number one cause of death by firearm was homicide at 59 percent; suicide followed at 22 percent, and the remainder were unintentional.
Crossville is a city of 11,000 people, 70 miles east of Knoxville. The family was reportedly visiting the city from nearby White County in central Tennessee.
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