The Detroit Police Department is reminding citizens that free gun locks are available through the department after a 4-year-old girl accidentally shot herself in the thigh with her father’s gun Sunday.
Sgt. Eren Stephens said the shooting took place at 11:44 p.m. outside a home on Monte Vista Street, just south of 8 Mile.
The girl was playing inside a parked vehicle when she found the gun and accidentally shot herself. She is at a hospital and is expected to recover.
A woman who answered the door Monday at the home identified herself as the girl’s aunt and said family members were gathered at the house when the accident happened.
“She wouldn’t go to sleep,” the woman said when asked why the girl was up at nearly midnight. She said the girl’s father and other family members were at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit on Monday with the girl.
Statistics related to children shooting themselves accidentally and surviving weren’t immediately available Monday, but in 2008, the last year it analyzed data, the National Safety Council found that four children who were 4 years old accidentally shot and killed themselves in the U.S.
That same year, 123 children through the age of 19 in the U.S. accidentally killed themselves with a gun, representing 1% of accidental deaths nationwide, the group found.
The Free Press asked the Detroit Police Department and metro hospitals for statistics related to Detroit and Detroit-area children accidentally shooting themselves. While police statistics weren’t immediately available, officials from Children’s Hospital of Michigan said that in 2010, they treated four children who accidentally shot themselves, and in 2011, they treated 11. So far in 2012, they have treated two children who have accidentally shot themselves.
The owner of the weapon in Sunday’s shooting has a license to carry a gun, Stephens said.
“It’s important that every person who is the owner of a weapon … must keep it secured,” Stephens said.
Neighbor Kelly Segar, 44, said she heard the gunshot from across the street. She said she didn’t look to see what had happened because gunshots ring out in the neighborhood periodically.
She said the father of the girl who was shot is one of the people who looks out for others in the neighborhood.
“He is visible in the neighborhood — he watches out a lot,” she said, adding that she is surprised about what happened to the girl.
“The question I have is, ‘Why is she up that late and why was she in the car at 12 o’clock at night?’ ” Segar said. “I’m glad she’s OK, though.”