Police: Toddler fatally shot himself while father slept
FDLE will analyze a .38-caliber revolver to determine whether the 22-month-old boy's death was an accident.
Etan Horowitz | Sentinel Staff Writer
10:28 AM EDT, March 10, 2008
Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo Print Reprints Post comment Text size: A 22-month-old boy was shot and killed early Sunday in what the boy's father told police was an accident that occurred while the adults in the Ocoee home were sleeping.
Ocoee police are investigating and have not determined whether the shooting was an accident or if they will pursue criminal charges, according to Bill Richardson, a police spokesman.
Police said an autopsy was being performed today and officials said detectives would be interviewing family again once they have more information. The toddler's name, nor that of his father, was released because police said it was an ongoing investigation.
About 12:42 a.m. Sunday, police responded to a home in the 900 block of Keaton Parkway and found family members holding the child at the door. Members of the Ocoee Fire Department Emergency Medical Team attempted to revive the child, but were unsuccessful and declared him dead.
The father, who police would not identify, told police that everyone was asleep when the boy woke up, found a .38-caliber revolver and accidentally shot himself, Richardson said.
The gun belonged to the father but it was not registered or listed as stolen, Richardson said. That type of gun typically is a "double-action" revolver, which requires the shooter to exert a lot of pressure on the gun for it to fire, he said.
"Normally you wouldn't think that a child that small could pull the trigger with that kind of action," Richardson said. "But there could be a malfunction, or a spring could be loose."
He also said .38-caliber revolvers usually have about a 10-pound trigger pull, so the shooter essentially has to be able to lift 10 pounds. "That would be a like a 22-month old toddler picking up two gallons of milk, which is kind of hard," Richardson said.
The gun is being sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to be analyzed. Richardson urged other parents to make sure their guns are secured and kept out of the reach of children, adding that Ocoee gives away gun locks.
Richardson would not identify the child, citing an ongoing investigation, and said the boy's mother does not live at the home. In addition to the father, there were other adults in the house, including the boy's grandparents.
Police are awaiting autopsy results before deciding whether to file charges, Richardson said.
If police determine that the child's death was accidental, the father could be charged with a felony under Florida law. In 1989, Florida became the first state in the nation to pass what is known as a Child Access Prevention law, according to the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. Under the law, storing or leaving a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a minor that is then used by the minor to harm themselves or another person, is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The home is on a quiet street in the Admiral Point subdivision. On Sunday, no one appeared to be home and no one answered the phone.
Several neighbors said they did not know the boy or his father.
"This is really sad," said a neighbor who would not give her name. "But it makes me absolutely livid at the same time that that little boy will not have the opportunity to grow up and experience life because someone did not put a lock on that gun."