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“The Danger of Negligent Gun Owners: A 2-Year-Old’s Fatal Accident”

Prosecutors stated Wednesday that a Michigan child was killed, and a convicted felon is now accused of illegally carrying the revolver that the boy accidentally discharged off while in the car with his mother at a petrol station last month.

Avis Damone Coward is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Mark Totten, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, who alleges that the 2-year-old, who has not been publicly identified, died as a result of the accidental discharge at the Sunoco petrol station in Lansing on October 24.

According to video surveillance, a bullet hole blasted the window of Coward’s white GMC Yukon just one minute after he exited the car and proceeded inside the petrol station.

Prosecutors claim that the child’s mother fled the automobile moments afterward, carrying her infant with blood flowing from his head. Coward’s gun allegedly dropped out of the car and onto the pavement as she exited.
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When he returned to his family, Coward reached for his revolver and placed it back in the car, according to prosecutors, who showed still photos of video surveillance showing him reaching onto the pavement for the gun and placing it back inside the vehicle. (According to reports, investigators did not immediately recover the pistol.)

The toddler was taken to a hospital for treatment by firefighters that afternoon, but he died the next night.

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“Death by gunfire of a child is a story that should never be written,” Totten said in a news release. “Yet beginning in 2022, and for the first time ever, gun violence has become the number one cause of death for kids in America.”

Totten described gun violence as a “swelling epidemic” that “reaches our most innocent.”
According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, more than half of all gun owners in the United States do not store their firearms correctly.

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According to a recent Michigan gun safety regulation, gun owners must keep weapons “unloaded and locked with a locking device or stored in a locked box or container if it is reasonably known that a minor is or is likely to be present on the premises.”

If they do not, and a youngster obtains the gun, resulting in a fatality, the gun owner faces up to 15 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
However, according to Ingham County Prosecutor John J. Dewane, the law will not take effect until March 2024, so it will not be applicable in this case. In the future, the law “will make a difference,” Dewane stated in an earlier statement following the death of the toddler.
On Halloween night, authorities discovered the Yukon in a field near Lansing, Mich., where the child apparently shot himself. It was “heavily damaged by fire,” according to the complaint, which PEOPLE acquired.

In a statement announcing the accusation, Detroit Field Division Special Agent in accusation James Deir called the toddler’s unintentional gunshot death “a parent’s worst nightmare,” adding that the “heartbreaking” case “reinforces the importance of responsible gun ownership and safety storage.”

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“A child should never be left alone with a gun,” he stated further. “Leaving the gun at home in a secure gun safe or using a safety device, such as a gun lock, prevents tragedies like this.”
Deir asked anybody interested in receiving a free gun lock or learning more about how to safely secure their firearms to call the ATF Detroit Field Division.

The toddler’s case is still being investigated, and additional charges may be made, according to a local agency official participating in the inquiry.

It’s unclear whether Coward has hired an attorney.

Visit BeSMARTforkids.org for additional information on safe firearm storage and the most effective strategies to protect children from unsecured guns.

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