A year-old boy was accidentally killed by his young sister, who found his mother’s loaded gun in their northern California home, officials say.
Paramedics responding to a frantic call for help on Wednesday found the baby on the floor of a bedroom in his Chowchilla home with a bullet wound to the head. He didn’t survive the ambulance trip to the hospital, police said in a statement. Police did not provide the names of the children. Local media said the girl was under the age of 6.
The mother, Erica Bautista, a corrections officer, was home at the time of the accident, according to officials. The gun was registered to her but was not a duty weapon, reported ABC30-TV. Authorities were investigating whether the gun was stored improperly. If that is the case, they may file criminal charges against the mother, who has worked as a corrections officer for 16 years.
Investigators said they couldn’t remember another similar case in at least 20 years in the town of 20,000, which is home to two state prisons.
“Anytime a child gets hold of firearm, and there’s some sort of a negligent discharge it’s a criminal matter,” said Lt. Jeff Palmer of the Chowchilla Police Department. Firearms are not something to be taken for granted, he warned. “Don’t leave them loaded, and absolutely don’t leave them in an area where a child can get its hands on it,” Palmer added.
Town police provide free gun locks.
Officials still are investigating the tragedy. Results of the probe will be turned over to the Madera County District Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether or not to file charges, according to the Merced Sun-Star.