TODAY   |  June 09, 2013

Ex-Green Beret shot dead by 4-year-old son

In what officials are calling a "tragic accident," a man was shot and killed by his 4-year-old son. "He was just a curious and inquisitive little boy," neighbor Jeremy Hart said. He "doesn't know anything is wrong." NBC's Thanh Truong reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> friends and family are in mourning today of a green beret. he was shot to death at a friend's home in arizona. his death came at the hands of his own son.

>> as a member of the army special forces , 35-year-old justin thomas survived combat zones, but the gunshot that killed him, police say, came from the least likely shooter. his 4-year-old son.

>> it just looks like a tragic accident.

>> an accident that happened friday afternoon when thomas and his son made a surprise visit to a friend's house in prescott, arizona.

>> after just a few minutes of being there, from this unannounced visit, his 4-year-old child found a firearm sitting out. picked it up out of curiosity.

>> jeremy hart lives next door to where the shooting took place. is a friend to everyone involved. hart took the little boy into his home as police and paramedics rushed to save thomas .

>> he was ask about his daddy. we kept him kind of out of sight over here when they took his father out on the stretcher. we didn't want him to see him like that.

>> thomas died at the hospital. police say because the visit was unannounced and little to no time to secure the gun, the owner will likely face no charges. though he would have been within his legal rights to have the gun out in the open.

>> he's just a curious, inquisitive little boy . he doesn't know life and death . he doesn't know that anything is wrong.

>> an accident where curiosity led to tragedy. for "today," tom trung, nbc news.