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5-year-old girl fatally shoots herself with gun found under grandmother’s pillow

The Washington Post The Washington Post 13/05/2016 Elahe Izadi

Mariah Davis © Twitter Mariah Davis A 5-year-old girl was playing with her baby brother and 3-year-old neighbor early Wednesday when she found a gun, police said.

The revolver had been tucked under her grandmother’s pillow in the Detroit home. It was loaded. And while in the hands of the little girl, the weapon went off, hitting her in the neck and killing her, Detroit police said.

“The grandfather went upstairs and found the baby, and immediately called 911,” officer Jennifer Moreno, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department, told The Post. Medics transported the 5-year-old to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Multiple news outlets, citing family, identified the girl.

“It was an awful tragedy that has all of us shook up and our heart broke,” the girl’s aunt, Freda Davis, told WWJ 950.

Davis added: “It seems like our souls was ripped out of us. She was a lovely little girl. All she loved to do was sing.”

The shooting took place around midnight while the grandparents were babysitting the children at their Detroit home, police said. Her grandmother had been downstairs cooking while the children played upstairs, officer Dan Donakowski told the Detroit Free Press.

“To receive a phone call that a 5-year-old has been shot at their own hands is something I cannot even fathom,” Capt. Jacqueline Pritchett, commander of Detroit’s 8th police precinct, told WXYZ.

Police questioned the grandmother then released her, Moreno said. “As for charges, we’ll know within the next 48 to 72 hours, pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Findings from the investigation will be submitted to the prosecuting attorney, who will consider any possible charges.

Wednesday’s shooting comes days after a 9-year-old boy in Detroit shot himself in the hand with a gun he found on a lawn.  And since Easter Sunday, a total of five Detroit children have been shot, either by themselves or others, according to the Detroit News.

Across the country, there have been at least 88 child shootings — when a minor accidentally shot themselves or others — this year, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-safety group funded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. The advocacy group, which compiles shooting data using news reports, found that 278 such shootings took place in 2015.

A Washington Post analysis found that the pace of toddler-involved shootings has slightly increased this year; as of May 1, there have been at least 23 shootings involving toddlers accidentally shooting themselves or others.

During one week in April, at least four children shot themselves with guns they found. A fifth child that week fatally shot his mother with a gun found in her car.

In Detroit, Pritchett urged gun owners to consider ways to keep their weapons locked and out of the reach of children’s hands: “An extra step taken last night could have prevented this little baby from being shot and killed,” she told WXYZ.

Moreno said the 8th precinct gives out free gun locks to gun owners who request them. “If you do own a firearm, keep it locked or unloaded, away from children,” Moreno said.

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