Authorities in Michigan have charged a man after a 2-year-old boy allegedly died as a result of an accidental discharge of the suspect’s gun, CBS News reported. In a statement on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan said the fatal incident occurred on October 24.
Authorities said the suspect, identified as Avis Damone Coward, stepped out of a car and made his way into a gas station in Lansing. A 2-year-old child and his mother remained in the car at the time.
But after a minute, surveillance footage showed a bullet hole had popped up in the car window. The child’s mother said she was on the phone when she suddenly heard an explosion and saw her child had shot himself in the head, according to the police. The mother then exited the car while holding the child, authorities said, adding that the minor had a bloodied face after suffering a gunshot wound. Coward’s gun also fell out of the car after the woman exited the car.
After returning, Coward picked up the gun and put it back in the car, the statement also said. The minor later succumbed to his injuries.
“Death of child by gunfire is a story that should never be written,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said. “Yet beginning in 2022, and for the first time ever, gun violence has become the number one cause of death for kids in America. As this swelling epidemic reaches our most innocent, my office will use every resource available to secure full accountability and prevent future harm.”
Coward has since been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. “This case is a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s heartbreaking and reinforces the importance of responsible gun ownership and safety storage,” Detroit Field Division Special Agent in Charge James Deir said.
“A child should never be left alone with a gun. Leaving the gun at home in a secure gun safe or using a safety device, such as a gun lock, prevent tragedies like this. If you need a free gun lock or want additional information on secure firearm storage, contact the ATF Detroit Field Division.”