Deputy's 4-year-old son accidentally shoots self

By Logan Smith - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The four-year-old son of a Richland County deputy accidentally shot himself with his father's off-duty weapon on Wednesday, according to the sheriff.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the incident happened around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Lott did not identify the deputy or child, and did not give the child's condition.

Lott said the deputy was in the bathroom preparing for his day when he heard a gunshot, and found his son lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to the upper body. The child was rushed to Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital and is expected to survive.

Each deputy is issued a gun safety lockbox to store their service weapon, according to Lott. "In this particular incident, it was a transitional period," said Major Stan Smith. "The officer was getting ready for work, so he had apparently taken the weapon from a secure location."

There's no word whether the deputy will be charged with negligence. "Obviously we're upset about this," said Smith. "He's a member of our family, therefore his child is a member of our family. Most of us have children, we all have firearms and the potential for this happening across the board, we urge safety."

Deputies offered several safety tips to ensure the safest environment for your family if you have weapons in your home:

Take the ammunition out of the gun
Lock the gun and keep it out of children's reach
Lock the ammunition and store it apart from the gun
Store the keys for the gun and the ammunition in a different area from where you store household keys. Keep the keys out of reach of children
Lock up gun-cleaning supplies, which are often poisonous
Talk to your family about gun safety

Lott said children should know the four steps of how to react in event they are ever faced with seeing a gun within reach:

1. Stop
2. Don't Touch
3. Leave the area
4. Tell an adult

"Things can happen in the blink of an eye with our children," said Lott. "Let's work together to keep them as safe as possible."

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.