Toddler Playing With Gun Accidentally Shoots Dead 5-Year-Old Cousin

A toddler playing with a gun shot dead his 5-year-old cousin at a Detroit home on Wednesday, police have said.

The 18-month-old boy reportedly got hold of the weapon while at the property with his father, his cousin, his grandmother and a baby girl.

The bullet hit the 5-year-old boy in the neck at the home in the 2400 block of Sturtevant Street, where police were called at 9:30 a.m.

At a news conference, Detroit Police Department Commander Tiffany Stewart called it "a sad day in the city."

"It was reported that an 18-month-old got a hold of a gun in the home that was accessible ... grabbed it ... started playing with and accidentally shot the 5-year-old," she said. "I'm not sure the 18-month-old is even aware of what occurred."

Officers detained the toddler's father, who is also the 5-year-old's uncle, over the incident. Commander Stewart called the boy's death "completely avoidable."

Commander Stewart of the 10th Precinct provides information on a shooting that occurred on the 2400 block of Sturtevant

"We lost another child in the city of Detroit due to a lack of firearm safety," she added.

"This is why we emphasize gun safety with gun locks and gun boxes so we don't have circumstances like this. It has been far too many of these kinds of circumstances in the city of Detroit."

Anyone with information is asked to call Detroit Police's Homicide Unit at 313-596-2260.

America's most dangerous city

Detroit, which topped the FBI's latest list of America's most dangerous cities, has been plagued by child shootings in recent months.

A 10-year-old boy was among two people shot on the city's southwest side on Tuesday. The child was reportedly shot in both legs and hospitalized with serious injuries, while the woman died. His condition remains unknown.

Reginae Williams, aged 7, died after being hit by a bullet fired into her Detroit home in a drive-by shooting in November. She was sitting on the couch, watching TV, when she was hit in the back of the head, police said.

A 9-year-old girl died in what police said was an accidental shooting on the city's westside in October. There were no other adults inside the house when the gun went off, Fox 2 Detroit reported.

"We are seeing this too often, please put your weapons up," Detroit Police Captain LaShanna Potts told reporters at the time. "You cannot leave babies home alone by themselves and leave weapons that are laying around.

"Right now, we have a mother who is devastated and two siblings who this is going to be the worst day of their life."

Across the United States, death by gunshot was the second-highest cause of death among those aged 1 to 19 in 2016, according to a study released by the New England Journal of Medicine two years ago. Only car crashes led to more deaths.

Eight children a day are unintentionally injured or killed in the U.S. because of an unlocked or unsupervised gun in the home, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Police Commander Stewart at the scene
Police Commander Tiffany Stewart said there had been "too many of these kinds of circumstances in the city of Detroit" at the scene of the shooting on Wednesday. Detroit Police Department / Facebook