KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Authorities say that it appears that another young child may have been handling the gun that shot a four-year-old girl in the head in a south Kansas City home on Thursday morning.
The young girl, whose name has not been released, was taken to an area hospital where she remains in critical condition following being in surgery for most of the day. The shooting happened in a home near Birchwood Drive and Monroe around noon on Thursday.
Related: Child Shot in South Kansas City Home
According to police, a woman was at the home, babysitting four children – all between four and six years of age – in the front room of the house where there was a loaded handgun. One of the children apparently picked up the gun and was handling it when it went off, striking the girl in the head.
Police say that the father of the girl had left the house earlier in the day and forgot that the loaded gun was sitting on a chair within easy reach of the young children in his home.
“We always stress the need to secure weapons, especially when there are children around,” said Sgt. Marisa Barnes of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. “Accidents like this happen, and its unfortunate we have to have something like this to bring attention to this type of issue.”
Neighbor Dan Peters says that many young children lived in the house. He says that he always assumed that they were cared for by grandparents.
“It really is sad,” said Peters. “Stuff like this never happens in this neighborhood. so it does come as a shock – especially with all the stuff going on in the news with gun activity and everything. You hear about it, but now that it’s right down the street it’s totally different.”
Firearm safety instructor Bruce Luedeman says that a tragic situation like this is all too common - and preventable.
"Its very simple to store a handgun safely," said Luedeman, who says that a cable-lock - available for free at local police stations - can prevent a gun from going off.
Police are still investigating, and will send their reports to prosecutors to decide if criminal charges will be filed in the case.