California: three-year-old accidentally shoots and kills baby sister with ‘unsecured’ handgun found in home

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Investigators are looking into how the toddler managed to get hold of a firearm in their home in San Diego

A three-year-old child in California has accidentally shot and killed their one-year-old sister after getting hold of an “unsecured” handgun, authorities have said.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department received a call about a shooting at a home in Fallbrook at around 7.30am local time on Monday (17 July). Officers who attended the scene confirmed that the toddler had got hold of an “unsecured” handgun - and that their younger sibling had suffered a “head injury”.

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The infant was transported to a local hospital, but despite “live-saving efforts” sadly died an hour later. Neither child is being named at this point.

Investigators are looking to “gather more information to determine the circumstances of the death” - including how the child managed to gain access to a gun. In California, firearms kept at home are required by law to be stored in locked containers or disabled by security devices.

It was not immediately clear whether any parents were in the home at the time of the shooting. While the investigation is ongoing, there are currently no “outstanding suspects” and no threat to the community, officials said.

A three-year-old child in California has accidentally shot and killed their one-year-old sister after getting hold of an “unsecured” handgun, authorities have said. Credit: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images - Stock Crime Scene PhotoA three-year-old child in California has accidentally shot and killed their one-year-old sister after getting hold of an “unsecured” handgun, authorities have said. Credit: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images - Stock Crime Scene Photo
A three-year-old child in California has accidentally shot and killed their one-year-old sister after getting hold of an “unsecured” handgun, authorities have said. Credit: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images - Stock Crime Scene Photo | Getty Images

The one-year-old’s tragic death is the latest unintentional shooting involving children to occur in the United States. According to nonprofit organisation Everytown for Gun Safety, firearms are the leading cause of death for children under 18 in the US, with unintentional shootings making up 5% of annual gun deaths among children 17 and younger.

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So far this year, as of 12 July, there have been at least 217 unintentional shootings by children, which have resulted in 76 deaths and 149 injuries, the gun control organisation added.

In a statement on the incident in Fallbrook, California, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said: “The Sheriff’s Department extends our sympathies to the family and those affected by this death.

“The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has been notified of the incident and will be updated with our findings during the investigation. The Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

“Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Homicide Unit at (858) 285-6330/after hours at (858) 565-5200. You can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.”

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