Petersburg 3-year-old hospitalized after accidentally shooting self: 'It's just ridiculous'

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Jun 17, 2024

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A three-year-old child in Petersburg is recovering after he accidentally shot himself with a semi-automatic handgun, police say.

Neighbors living on East Bank Street, who asked to remain anonymous, told CBS 6's Wayne Covil that they were surprised to see over half a dozen police cars show up in the 800 block of their street on Sunday afternoon.

"I was more shocked when I found out it was a child that got shot," said one neighbor.

Those who live on the normally quiet street say they quickly learned why there was such a heavy police presence.

"A three-year-old shouldn't have access to a gun," a neighbor said.

Petersburg Police say their investigation determined a friend of the family stopped by the child's home before the shooting.

"[They] entered the residence, placed his firearm on top of the table, attempted to conceal it by placing some articles over top of it, went to the back bedroom, within minutes heard a loud pop," said Petersburg police detective Shekisha Hodge.

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Detective Shekisha Hodge

Police say the three-year-old found the gun, pulled the trigger, and shot himself in the arm.

 “The gun owner actually transported the juvenile and the juvenile's mother to the hospital.” 

Neighbors say gun owners need to be more responsible.

"Whoever has [guns] around children, they should be punished cause I don’t think it’s fair cause this child could have lost his life," a neighbor said.

"It could have unfortunately been another death in the city," Detective Hodge said.

The gun owner, police say, legally purchased the weapon and has now been charged with a Class One misdemeanor.

Police say the toddler is in stable condition, and that an accident like this can easily be avoided.

Marlon Dance, the co-owner of Dance's Sporting Goods, says securing a gun can be quick, simple, and free.

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Marlon Dance

"We as individuals need to protect them even more than we do," Dance said. "This particular [lock box] right here, we give them away lots of times."

Gun owners can also save money on their state taxes by locking up their weapons. In 2023, the general assembly enacted theFirearm Safety Device Credit, giving a maximum credit of either $300 or $600 if you purchase a locking device to secure a firearm.

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