10-year-old playing with gun kills 11-year-old in Virginia

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A 10-year-old boy playing with a gun shot and killed an 11-year-old boy Thursday while they were home alone in Roanoke, Virginia, police said.

ROANOKE, Virginia – A 10-year-old boy playing with a gun shot and killed an 11-year-old boy Thursday while they were home alone in Roanoke, Virginia, police said.

The two boys were “kin” but not siblings, said police spokesman Scott Leamon. Detectives are trying to determine exactly what happened, he said.

“They are interviewing some more people, analyzing all of the evidence,” Leamon said. “They have to do a trace on the gun and test the fire from the gun to make sure the gun was working properly or if it malfunctioned.”

Part of the police investigation will focus on why the gun was accessible, he said.

Both boys had been playing with the gun and the 10-year-old called 911 after the shooting, police said.

The 11-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Don Caldwell, the Roanoke City Commonwealth’s attorney, said no criminal charges have been filed yet.

“The police investigation is continuing until all the facts are collected to determine whether any criminal charges should be placed against anybody,” Caldwell said. “There will be a consideration of any adult involvement or lack thereof and the actions of the child.”

Similar tragedies crisscross country

Accidental shootings are all too common with children — and at least one activist says they should not be classified as accidents.

“These fatalities are unintentional, but they’re not accidental,” said Jonathan Hutson, former spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “They’re foreseeable and preventable.”

In one week in April, at least five children found and fired handguns with deadly results. In one case, a boy killed his mother. In other cases, the children killed themselves.

Twenty-four children under age 4 died from accidental shootings in 2014, the most recent year of data available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The information did not distinguish whether those children shot themselves by accident or were shot by someone else.

Firearms instructor Tim Mulheron, who is certified by the National Rifle Association as an instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun safety, said gun-owning parents need to teach their children gun safety and keep weapons secured from children who might play with them.

“Teaching your kids how guns work and to understand what they do and what happens when they go off is very important,” he said. “Kids have an incurable curiosity — that’s the first thing that gets everyone in trouble. If you train a child it takes the mystery away so they know what is and see what it does.”