A 3-year-old boy named James Kenneth Lindquester, from Aloha, Oregon, has died after finding a handgun in a bedroom and accidentally shooting himself, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
The tragic incident was reported on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, at 9:49 p.m., when deputies responded to the shooting. James' family called 911 and reported that he had retrieved a handgun from a drawer in an end table and shot himself in the head.
Local law enforcement and the fire and rescue department tried to save James' life. He was later taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before midnight.
"If you ask any first responder, the death of a child is the absolute worst call that we go to," Washington County Deputy Shannon Wilde told local station KATU. "It’s tough. A lot of us are parents ourselves. I know some of the responders on scene last night have children. Some have children the same age as this little boy, and it’s tough. We see a lot of horrible things, but seeing a child in that situation is the worst."
The investigation into James' death is still ongoing, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Roughly one-third of U.S. homes with children have guns, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many of which are loaded or unlocked. Even "young toddlers" can be strong enough to pull the trigger on a handgun, per the AAP.
In 2019, there were 241 unintended shootings by children, which led to more than 100 deaths and almost 150 injuries.
The AAP advises that the safest homes for children are homes without guns. However, for families who decide to keep guns in the home, research shows that teaching kids about gun safety or not to touch guns is not enough.
The AAP recommends safe storage, meaning all guns are locked and unloaded with ammunition locked up separately. Don't keep loaded, unlocked guns in the car, either. When the gun is in use, the safety catch should be in place until the shooter is ready to fire. The shooter should always unload the gun before setting it down.
The AAP also discourages parents from allowing children to shoot guns.