2-Year-Old Fatally Shoots Father With Rifle in Accident

A 2-year-old in St. Louis accidentally shot and killed his father after a rifle he got hold of discharged, according to police.

When police arrived at the home at about 8:30 p.m., they found the boy's father, who was in his 20s, unconscious and not breathing, according to KMOV-TV, a local television news station.

The gunfire reportedly struck him in the back, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The shooting occurred at a home in St. Louis' Peabody Darst Webbe neighborhood, located just south of the city's downtown area.

A woman was at the home at the time of the shooting, but it was not clear if she would face any charges in connection to the shooting, KMOV reported.

Police are investigating the shooting, according to the Post-Dispatch.

There were no updates to the investigation as of Monday afternoon, the St. Louis Police Department said in a statement to Newsweek.

In the wake of the shooting, local gun safety groups have reminded families that gun locks are available as a way to prevent accidental shootings.

"Always this news is heart-breaking," Cathy Gilbert, who is a co-chair of the group Women's Voices for Social Justice, told KSDK-TV. "But when I heard about this I thought, People think 2-year-olds can't possibly pull a trigger.

"But, she continiued, "they have that strength. So many people have a young child around and they think—nothing will happen. But it does."

She added, "There's been research that shows securing guns does reduce the incidence of unintentional shootings involving children."

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a database that collects information about shootings across the United States, there have been 1,789 unintentional shootings in 2021 as of Monday.

In 2020, there were at least 369 unintentional shootings by children, causing 142 deaths and 242 injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. From March to December 2020—the COVID-19 pandemic—accidental shooting deaths by children increased 30 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

The AAP advises parents—if they are going to have a gun in the house—to ensure all guns remain "locked and unloaded, with ammunition locked separately" to prevent accidental shootings.

In a similar incident earlier in November, two children were hospitalized after a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot himself and a 2-year-old with a handgun in Texas. They suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries.

On August 1, a 4-year-old boy got hold of his father's loaded gun and accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old brother in Milwaukee. His father, Giovanni Smith, was charged with neglect of a child resulting in death.

Update 11/22/2021 at 1:49 p.m ET: This story was updated to include a statement from the St. Louis Police Department.

2-year-old accidentally shoots father st. louis police
A 2-year-old was handling a rifle Saturday night when it discharged, killing his father, police said. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images