‘Papa shot me.’ Teen dies after grandpa pulls trigger thinking gun was unloaded, cops say

A Missouri man was arrested after police say he accidentally shot and killed his 16-year-old grandson.

When police arrived at a home in Clinton on Sunday, Sept. 17, they found the teen lying face down in a pool of blood on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building, according to a probable cause statement. Officers and paramedics tried to save the teen, but he died as a result of his injuries.

Police confronted the teen’s 70-year-old grandpa and ordered him to the ground, but he went back inside the apartment and locked the door, records say. Officers later got into the apartment and took the man into custody.

A witness at the scene told officers she was inside the apartment lying in her bed when she heard a gunshot go off. Then the teen came into the room holding his chest and said, “Papa shot me,” according to a probable cause statement.

The witness told police she followed the teen back outside where his grandfather was. They asked the man if he shot the teen and he said, “yeah,” before going back into the apartment, the probably cause statement says.

While reviewing a 911 call, police said they could hear the witness ask the teen who shot him and he is heard responding, “Grandpa, accidentally.”

Police said they interviewed the grandfather who told them he pointed his Glock .45 pistol at the teen and pulled the trigger, but he thought it was unloaded.

The man told police he gave the gun to the teen earlier in the evening “to play with,” but it was unloaded, according to the probable cause statement. He said he took the gun back and put a loaded magazine in it, then placed it in a case next to his bed, police said. Then the teen took the gun a second time and was playing with it again, court records say.

The man told police he took the loaded magazine out of the gun and thought the chamber was empty, then pulled the trigger, police said in the probable cause statement.

Another witness told police they saw the teen playing with the gun earlier in the evening. Another person at the apartment told police they gave the suspect a cup of whiskey before the shooting, according to the probable cause statement.

Police said they recovered the Glock .45 in the home tucked in a bookshelf and found a spent shell casing outside on a sidewalk.

The man is charged with endangering the welfare of a child — death of a child and resisting arrest, according to court records.

He was given a $100,000 bond.

Gun deaths among children in the United States rose 50% between 2019 and 2021, according to Pew Research Center. In 2021, there were 549 unintentional gun-related deaths, according to USA Facts.

Safe Kids Worldwide provides a list of gun safety tips, including locking them in a container and making sure they’re unloaded and away from children.

Clinton is about 75 miles southeast of Kansas City.

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