2:15 PM PDT, May 24, 2021
A 2-year-old Florida girl is fighting for her life after her 3-year-old brother accidentally shot her with a gun he found hidden in the couch, officials said.
The little boy picked up the firearm, pointed it towards his sister and pulled the trigger just before midnight Friday.
Three men who had gathered at the home, located in the unincorporated area of Lakeland, Florida, to watch basketball heard a pop and found the 2-year-old with a gunshot wound, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s office.
The three men rushed the child to the hospital to seek treatment and got into a car crash with another vehicle. There were significant injuries, from the crash, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.
At that time a good Samaritan who had stopped at the crash scene transported the 2-year-old and one of the men to the hospital, Judd said at a press conference.
The bullet damaged the toddler’s intestines and she was listed in critical condition, Judd said. She was operated on and transferred to another intensive services hospital in Central Florida, a report said.
“The baby needs our prayers and the entire family needs our prayers,” Judd said
The boy was taken by the Department of Children and Families and placed in his grandmother’s care, according to the news conference.
Judd said there was no reason to think that the shooting was an “intentional act,” and said during the briefing it was “a tragic accident that should have never occurred.”
“He was a baby playing with what he saw as what was some kind of toy,” Judd said.
The men have been cooperating with the investigation, Judd said. Kevonte Wilson, 23, one of the men at the home, was the gun owner, according to police. The firearm he possessed was a highpoint .380. He has been arrested on multiple charges, including failure to safely store a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Wilson will likely face additional charges in the coming weeks, Judd said.
Another man, Chad Berrien, 24, was also arrested. He faces charges on four outstanding warrants unrelated to the accidental shooting as well as possession of marijuana over 20 grams, possession of paraphernalia and maintaining a house for drug use, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Barrien is not culpable in the shooting, Judd said at the news conference.
Judd said if the child dies, Wilson could be charged with culpable negligence and manslaughter.
The third person has no criminal charges and was “shocked and upset as everyone else,” Judd said.
He also said that “obviously the 3-year-old boy will not be charged.”
“It can’t be stressed enough, if you have firearms in your home, keep them away from children,” Judd said in a statement. “A beautiful little girl is fighting for her life right now because another child who didn’t know any better was able to get his hands on a loaded gun.”