LAKELAND, Fla. — A 2-year-old girl is in the hospital after her 3-year-old brother accidentally shot her on Friday night, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
A man who reportedly brought a gun into the home has been arrested.
“It just appears to be a horrible, tragic accident that should never have occurred,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.
During a Saturday afternoon news conference, Judd said the shooting happened while three friends were watching basketball at the home of 24-year-old Chad Berrien in Lakeland.
That home is in the area of South Wabash Avenue and Ariana Street.
Judd said, just before midnight, they heard a pop and saw the 2-year-old girl had been shot on the couch.
Her 3-year-old brother ran to another room, crying, according to Judd.
Judd said the men then got into a crash on Olive Street and Oregon Avenue while they were driving the girl to the hospital. He said a good Samaritan stopped and took the girl and Berrien to the hospital.
According to the sheriff, the girl was shot in the chest and the bullet went through her pancreas and possibly her large and small intestines before exiting her body out her back. He said the 2-year-old has already been through one surgery to save her life.
The sheriff said Kevonté Wilson, 23, brought the gun into the home and stuffed it between the couch cushions.
“I don’t know you think you safely keep a gun away from children when you stick it between the couch [cushions] that the children are playing on,” Judd said.
Wilson has been arrested for failure to safely store a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm.
Judd said he will also be charged with culpable negligence in a week.
Judd said deputies found marijuana at Berrien’s home when serving a search warrant there early Saturday morning.
Berrien was arrested on four outstanding warrants for battery, resisting arrest without violence, and two counts of driving on a suspended driver’s license, according to the sheriff.
Judd said Berrien is also being charged with possession of marijuana over 20 grams, possession of paraphernalia, and maintaining a house for drug use.
“Obviously – and I underscore ‘obviously’ – the 3-year-old is not going to be charged with a criminal event, for obvious reasons. That child can’t be held accountable for his conduct. There is absolutely no reason to think that was an intentional act, other than he was a baby playing with what he saw was some sort of toy,” Judd said
The 3-year-old brother has been removed from the home by DCF and placed in the care of his grandmother, said the sheriff.
Twenty-three-year-old Rodderick Haynes was also in the home when the shooting happened and was in the car when it crashed, said the sheriff’s office. He has not been charged with any crimes.
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