Jeremiah Banks, a 3-year-old boy, accidentally shot himself with a gun his father left on the bedroom Thursday, the Chicago Tribune is reporting. The toddler shot himself in the head with a 9 mm semi-automatic Diamondback.
Banks had entered his parent’s bedroom in Waukegan, Chicago, around 3 a.m. and taken the gun into the living room where he shot himself dead. He was pronounced dead at the Vista Medical Center East.
The boy’s parents were not taken into custody after the tragedy. However, they were told they would be expected to meet at the Lake County state attorney’s office soon. Detectives confirmed that Jeremiah’s father was in possession of valid firearm owner’s identification card and confirmed a rifle was inside the house which they took into custody.
Veronica Resa, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, revealed that they were also investigating the tragic shooting.
“DCFS is investigating the mother and father for allegations of neglect…the investigation is pending. DCFS has not had any prior contact with this family….this is not unusual unfortunately…no other children in this home that we know of.”
A neighbor, Sam Cunningham, said he hoped the tragedy served as a warning to parents who recklessly kept their weapons out in the open instead of locking them up.
“I feel so bad for this family…for this tragic situation to happen, it just hurts, but this brings awareness to the fact that if you have a weapon, it needs to be locked and stored in a secure environment…the responsibility lies with the person who owns this weapon…they need to be locked so young boys don’t think it’s a toy.”
Genoveva Sajuan, a neighbor who lived next door and who said she had known Jeremiah Banks’ father since he was a boy, told investigators the couple had lived in the house where the shooting took place for 18 months. Sajuan said the couple was friendly, but because of her limited use of English, their exchanges were always short and to the point.
Sajuan described Jeremiah as a lovable but mischievous boy who banged her house and stuck a tongue out and laughed when she came to the window. She added that he also used to throw his toys into her yard because his bedroom window looked into her compound.
Sajuan said she heard a loud bang at 3 a.m. which got her tumbling from her bed; she said two minutes later she heard screams of “my baby, my baby.” She looked outside the window and saw Jeremiah’s father cradling the boy in his arms.
The police and ambulance showed up within minutes of each other, with Jeremiah being rushed to hospital after being placed on a stretcher. Genoveva Sajuan said she had no idea that the Banks family had guns in their residence.
“It was shocking to see the police bring out of the house a gun…I can’t believe this happened. I have a granddaughter that age and I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now…these things happen in an instant and they’ll mark you for life.”
Another neighbor said it was eerie that the little boy was gone because he only talked to Jeremiah’s mother the day before and the child was with her around 8 p.m. The neighbor said it was sad that the boy was gone too soon, losing out at the chance to grow up and enjoy life.
Over 1,000 accidental shooting deaths have occurred in the U.S. from January 1, 2014, to June, 30 2016. Twenty-six of these accidental shootings have taken place in Chicago with handguns legally owned by adults falling into the hands of children.
One of them was Devon Lofton, a 7-year-old boy who found a .22 Caliber gun recklessly left by his elder brother. The boy who lived for basketball and loved coloring books shot himself in the head while playing with the weapon.
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