Toddler shoots self in eye with unsecured gun and her dad is charged, MI officials say

A 2-year-old girl shot herself through the eye with an unsecured gun, and now her father is facing charges never before brought in the state of Michigan, according to officials.

Police in Flint responded to a hospital on Feb. 14, after receiving a call about a toddler with a gunshot wound to the head, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said during a Tuesday, Feb. 20 news briefing aired by WPBN.

The girl’s father had driven her to the hospital, and police spoke with him there before heading to a home where the apparent accidental shooting happened, according to Leyton.

Officers went inside and were greeted by the sight of blood in the living room and on a couch near the front door — all of which seemed to be coming from a bedroom, officials said. In the bedroom, police found more blood, and also brain matter, next to “a toddler-sized folding chair,” along with two handguns on the bed, Leyton said.

One was a semi-automatic pistol and the other was a revolver, Leyton said, adding both were loaded and ready to shoot with a pull of the trigger. A single round from the revolver had been fired, and investigators say there was a bullet hole in the bedroom ceiling.

Officials say the girl shot herself in the right eye and the bullet exited out the back of her skull.

“She will lose her right eye, at best,” Leyton said, but whether she will survive is still uncertain. “She remains in critical condition this afternoon.”

The shooting occurred the day after Michigan’s new gun safety law, often called the “safe storage” law, went into effect, officials said. The law requires gun owners to keep firearms locked away in safes or secured by a gun lock. There were no safes or gun locks in the bedroom, the weapons were completely unsecured, Leyton said.

Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet, who championed the bill, said she was surprised and saddened that the new law already had reason to be put to use.

“With (gun ownership) comes an extraordinary responsibility, and when you don’t honor that responsibility, there need to be criminal penalties,” she said at the briefing.

According to Leyton, the girl’s father is facing multiple charges, including child abuse, lying to a police officer about a violent crime investigation and violation of Michigan safe storage of firearms law.

Leyton and McDonald both highlighted that, with the new law, prosecutors are now more empowered to hold negligent gun owners accountable, which will, ideally, prevent incidents like this in the future.

“We have a real problem and we really need to work together to fix it,” McDonald said.

In recent years, guns have become the leading cause of death for children and young people ages 1-19, according to a 2022 Johns Hopkins study. During 2020, more than 4,350 people in that age range died as a result of being shot, either self-inflicted or by someone else, according to the study.

While the majority of gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides, this isn’t the case for the 1-19 age group, where homicides accounted for 64% of deaths, the study found, adding that Black Americans are significantly more impacted by gun violence.

Of the 45,222 gun deaths in 2020, accidental deaths accounted for 535, the study said.

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