JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The mother of a 9-year-old boy who was shot in the head Monday afternoon in a Northside home said her son is in surgery. She said the family has gathered at the hospital, praying for his recovery.
Jacksonville police said two children got a hold of a gun and it went off about 3 p.m. at a home on Alexandra Drive on the Northside. The child was rushed to the hospital in critical condition for treatment of a single gunshot wound.
News4Jax learned the property is registered as Johnson Medical Foster Care. The mother initially said no, but wouldn't give any other details, so it’s unclear if the boy lived here or how their family is connected.
According to neighbors, five to six children, some of whom are in foster care, live at the home and the Department of Children and Families is also investigating.
Sources told News4Jax that all of the children have been removed by DCF.
The police report indicates that a woman had gone to the store about 10 minutes before she heard there was a shooting at the home. She told officers she wasn't aware of any guns in the house.
The report did not indicate where the children found the gun nor give the ages of either child, but the mother confirmed the age of the victim. Police did say they were speaking with the other child who was in the room when the gun discharged.
"The lingering question is, where the gun comes from, No. 1," News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said. "No. 2, does it belong to the homeowner?"
Jefferson said when you are dealing with people in a foster home, you have to be extra careful because you don't necessarily know the background of everyone involved.
"You definitely don’t know the full background of the children are you getting. You don’t know where they come from. You don’t know what particular environment that they have come out of," Jefferson said.
The I-TEAM learned that police have been called to the home 32 times over the past five years. Six of those calls were for a “mentally ill person.”
"You have to keep a constant monitoring on your children. Watch them when they come and go out. See if they bring something in that they shouldn’t," Jefferson said.
Bob Miller of Family Support Services of North Florida, which oversees the area's foster care program, said it will visit foster homes four times every year, and two of those visits are random.
Foster parents have strict licensing requirements. Once they're accepted, they do get a stipend for room and board for each child they host.
Foster parents are legally allowed to own a gun, but they must prove that it’s locked away and the home is safe.
Carson Tranquille, who retired after 30 years as a Jacksonville police chief and firearms instructor, said he has seen this scenario way too many times.
"Explain to your kids: Do not touch a weapon. It’s dangerous. Stay away from them. Get an adult," Tranquille said.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the investigation is ongoing.
Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.