A spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department, Sgt. Eric Gripp, has confirmed that a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot his uncle with a 9mm pistol on Friday, September 22nd in Center City. The child had been traveling in an SUV full of family members when his father, an off-duty Philadelphia Housing Authority cop had to make a quick stop into City Hall. However, the child's father did not have his badge on him so he could not take his sidearm and he hid it under the passenger seat.
When the father went to run his errand inside City Hall, most of the passengers got out of the vehicle for whatever reasons, leaving only the uncle and the 3-year-old inside the SUV.
The child managed to fidget around the SUV, locating the pistol, and taking it into his possession. The uncle was using his mobile phone when the gunshot went off in the late morning, shooting the man in the shoulder.
The incident occurred near the intersection of 16th and Arch Streets. The incident happened at a time when the streets were busy for lunch time. The scene was swarmed by police shortly after the shot(s) rang out near Love Park.
Sgt. Gripp noted that apparently at some point the child was able to unbuckle himself from his car seat and locate the firearm from underneath the passenger seat. He said that the child fired once which struck his uncle in the shoulder with a bullet that went in the back side of the 24-year-old uncle's right shoulder and exited through the front.
There are conflicting reports as to how many times the man was shot. Some news outlets mention multiple gunshots, while Sgt. Gripp says there was only one shot.
The incident caused people in the vicinity to call the police who responded in force, not knowing the circumstances of the shooting. One of the other family members who stepped out of the SUV was also a Housing Authority policeman. The gun that was used in this accident is reportedly not the officer's service weapon, but a privately owned pistol.
The injured uncle was rushed to the hospital where he is listed in stable condition.
Police say that an investigation is underway and as of this time there are no charges being filed, but expect charges to be filed once the investigation has been completed.
In my opinion, and disclaiming I'm clearly not privy to the investigation's findings, it looks like multiple charges could easily be filed. Leaving a loaded firearm in a car with a child, presumably with the safety off, sounds a bit reckless. They should know better than to leave a loaded gun under a car seat when there's a child in the car. The man who ran into City Hall to do some errands should've left the gun in possession of the other adult, that way the gun would be safe and out of harms way.
Loaded weapons around children is not a gun problem, but an irresponsible gun owner problem. Always keep guns properly stored and secured so that children are unable to access them.
And on that note - imagine the man's face when he comes outside to see the Uncle shot by the little child! If that's not a priceless family moment, then what is?
We're thankful the man was only shot in the shoulder.
Please keep your guns responsibly stored so accidents don't happen.