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5:45 AM Tue, Dec. 18th

7-year-old with autism accidentally shoots father with family gun

Child appears to have known where safe, key were

While most of his family was sleeping, a 7-year-old boy with autism pulled a gun from a safe in his home along the 4000 block of North Romero Circle East in Prescott Valley and shot his father in the back Wednesday evening, March 7, police said.

At the time of the incident, the father was sleeping on a bed while the mother was sleeping in the living room with two of their sons, a 2-year-old and the 7-year-old, according to a news release the Prescott Valley Police Department issued Thursday. A 13-year-old son was in his room doing homework.

It is believed that the 7-year-old boy knew the gun was in a small locked safe in a closet and knew where the keys were kept, the news release states. To reach the safe, the child moved a dining room chair to the closet. He removed the gun from the safe and allegedly shot his dad. He could not provide a reason for shooting his dad, police said.

The round went through the father’s upper chest and back, into the mattress, through a wall next to the mattress, skipping across the floor of the living room, and through an exterior wall. The single round fired did not damage anything or anyone outside of the residence, police said.

The father was flown by Native Air to John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix where he remains in ICU in stable condition. The incident is still under investigation.

“Gun safety can never be taken for granted,” said Jerry Ferguson, PVPD spokesperson. “Even when we think we’ve secured our weapons, there is more to consider than just a weapon being locked up. The gun should also have a locking device on the gun itself.”

Gun locks are available at no cost to the public at the PVPD front lobby, 7601 Civic Circle, Prescott Valley.