A Florida prison guard’s 3-year-old shot himself to death with a 9mm pistol that was left unlocked in a bedroom nightstand drawer—a tragedy that left deputies and police dispatchers traumatized.
The victim’s 16-year-old sister, who was watching the toddler, called 911 in an anguished panic.
“My little brother shot himself!” she screamed. “There is blood everywhere!”
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood had a note of incredulity and frustration in his voice as he told reporters the Wednesday night accident in Daytona Park Estates was easily avoidable.
“You want to own guns? Go out and do the right goddamn thing so we don’t have to deal with another 3-year-old shooting himself,” Chitwood said.
The father doesn’t use a weapon in his job as a lieutenant at Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach but he had the 9mm and a Glock at home.
There was a safe in the bedroom but it did not work, and the 9mm was in the nightstand next to a bed, while the Glock was on the top of the refrigerator.
The little boy’s parents left to go grocery shopping at Publix, leaving their 16-year-old daughter in charge of the toddler and an 8-year-old brother.
That’s when the boy wandered into the bedroom. “He got into the end table, he picked the gun out and he turned it toward himself and shot himself at point-blank range,” Chitwood said.
The teenager made a frantic call to 911 and seven minutes later, a deputy was at the home, but the child could not be saved.
Florida law calls for a seven-day gap between a child shooting themself and a charging decision, which is made by the state attorney.
“I cannot imagine there is anything in the law books that can punish that family more,” Chitwood said.
“Clearly this should never have happened, we should not be standing here having this conversation,” he said. “My deputies and dispatchers should not be going through what they are going through.”
Chitwood said he has a message for all gun owners not taking precautions: “I would like them to listen to that 911 call. I would like to have them hear the 16-year-old say, ‘My brother shot himself and he’s not breathing.’ I think if you heard that, you would run out right now, and buy a gun safe.”