Suffolk interim police chief calls for adults to lock up guns around kids after child accidentally shot

Posted at 3:27 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 18:21:03-04

SUFFOLK, Va. - Interim Police Chief Alfred Chandler is angry after another child was shot in the city on Tuesday night.

Police say an 8-year-old was able to get ahold of an adult's gun and accidentally shot a 12-year-old on Kissimee Avenue. Thankfully, the 12-year-old is expected to be okay.

"Honestly and truly when I heard about it, the feeling that I had was anger," said Chandler.

Right now, the incident remains under investigation, but police say more information will be released soon.

"We can't say it enough how important it is to keep guns locked away and out of the hands of children," said Chandler.

Police and advocates say adults should lock their guns up and keep them out of sight of children when they're around. If it's on their person for whatever reason, the adult should at least be in control of gun the entire time so a child can't just find it laying around.

Corri Miller-Hobbs is pediatric injury prevention and outreach coordinator at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU and Safe Kids Virginia program coordinator, which helps provide parents tips and information on keeping their kids safe. She says parents need to talk to their kids about guns.

"Begin that talk early and talk to them about what to do if they do see a gun - that they don't touch it and they talk to an adult right away," she said.

Miller-Hobbs also recommends gun owners store ammunition in a separate lock box from the gun, so it's harder for children to somehow put them together. She also says if parents are going to another household with their kids, they ask the homeowner if there are unsecured guns.

"It is not something we take lightly. We need to take this very seriously," she said. "If you're choosing to have a gun, which is your right and your choice, we just ask that everyone secure it to ensure that we're protecting the children."

Tuesday night's incident wasn't the only involving a child this week. On Sunday night, a 14-month-old was grazed by a bullet when he was outside with family for a July 4 cookout. It appears the bullet was shot into the sky in celebration for the holiday. The 14-month-old will also be okay.

"It's just not okay. That's not a celebration. That's not American. That's not patriotic - it's dangerous," said Chandler.

Interim Chief Chander says Suffolk Police are taking action to try and prevent incidents like this from happening by targeting the areas where the shootings have been happening.

"We have work to do," he said. "This is something we have to do with our community in fixing this problem."