A Hermiston toddler is in critical condition after being accidentally shot in the head by a seven-year-old sibling, according to the Hermiston Police Department.
Longterm prognosis for the boy, age 2, “cannot yet be determined,” the news release stated, and his name and other details are not being released in order to protect the identities of the minors involved.
The police department was contacted by Good Shepherd Medical Center shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday about a child with a gunshot wound to the head. After officers responded to the hospital and learned the location of the shooting, HPD officers and deputies from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office secured the scene. Pendleton Police Department also assisted by providing a child forensic interviewer.
According to the department, based on physical evidence and statements of family members it appears the toddler was accidentally shot by a sibling, age 7 with a .25 caliber Beretta handgun in a vehicle. Chief Jason Edmiston said the gun was reportedly owned by the childrens’ mother, although the department has not yet officially confirmed that through a trace of ownership.
The victim has since been transferred to an out-of-area hospital. Child Protective Services is involved and the case will be reviewed by the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges will be filed against adults connected to the incident.
“It goes without saying that this is an incredibly horrible incident for the involved family, and the officers who responded, the medical professionals who treated the child, and the community as a whole,” the department stated. “If you own firearms, we urge you to store them in a safe manner to prevent unauthorized access.”
Centers for Disease Control estimated 77 children died from accidental gun discharges in 2015, but the Associated Press counted 141 cases that year reported in the media.
Gun locks are available for free at the Hermiston Police Department. The Project Childsafe cable locks, which look similar to a bike lock and come with two small keys, keep the gun from being fired when the lock is properly attached to the gun and locked into place. The instructions that come with the locks note that gun owners should still adhere to other gun safety practices including storing firearms in a gun safe. For more information about the gun locks call the department at 541-567-5519.