National News Desk

Three-year-old boy fatally shoots himself with handgun left in nightstand

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(DELAND, Fla.) — A 3-year-old boy fatally shot himself when he found a 9 mm handgun in a nightstand in his Florida home, according to authorities.

The tragedy unfolded Wednesday evening at a home in DeLand, about 40 miles north of Orlando.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office called it “one of the worst calls imaginable” to respond to.

The shooting occurred as the 3-year-old and an 8-year-old were being watched by their 16-year-old sister while the parents were grocery shopping, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a news conference Thursday.

The gun was discharged once, the sheriff said. It’s not clear exactly how the boy got into the nightstand and discharged the gun, Chitwood said.

Chitwood said the gun was usually kept in a safe, which was not working.

The family had a second gun on top of the fridge, he said.

The boy’s father is a state corrections officer, Chitwood said, adding that the guns were not department-issued.

Chitwood called the 16-year-old’s 911 call “heartbreaking.” The sheriff said the girl told dispatchers, “My brother shot himself and he’s not breathing.”

“This should never have happened,” he said.

No charges have been filed.

The sheriff pleaded with gun owners to keep them in safes.

“If you have little ones, even if you have teenagers, you gotta lock them up,” he said.

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