JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An 8-year-old boy picked up a gun and fired at least one shot Saturday afternoon, killing a 5-year-old girl and injuring a 4-year-old boy, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. The younger was taken to UF Health Jacksonville with a bullet wound and was expected to survive.
Police said the shooting happened just after 1 p.m. while the mother of one of the children went to a store, leaving the three young children alone in a unit of the Roosevelt Gardens Apartments, off Eighth Street just east of Interstate 95.
JSO said the children know each other and live in the same block of apartment complex. Authorities said detectives worked through the afternoon and evening to figure out what happened.
"I don't want to speculate what happened in that apartment," homicide Sgt. Chuck Ford said. "(It's) really early in our investigation to do that."
Ford said police consulted with the Department of Children and Families on the case and a child protection team was called to assist.
"The only thing I can say right now is I'm praying. I want God to work this out," said Marie Peterson, grandmother of at least one of the victims. "I feel horrible for them. This is a horrible thing, for anybody to have to go through."
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said parents need to secure their guns.
"In most cases, especially when you have a very small living quarters, kids will find them," Smith said. "So it's important to have some type of locking device on the weapon."
Smith said it would be up to the state attorney to determine if any charges would be filed.