7-year-old girl accidentally shot in Catawba County, investigators say

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Seven-year-old Mai Yang was accidentally shot in the face by her 11-year-old brother, Monday evening, her father, Thay Yang, said.

Deputies said it happened on Reepsville Road in the Vale community. The little girl was flown to the hospital and on Tuesday, deputies said she had undergone surgery. She is in serious but stable condition, investigators said.

“Accidentally shot,” Thay Yang told Channel 9 through a translator. “He didn’t realize the gun was loaded. He thought it was on safety mode too and checked to see if there were bullets in there.”

Sheriff Don Brown showed Channel 9 the gun locks the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office gives out for free to the public.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and deputies are focused on the access to the rifle and whether the owner should be charged.

In North Carolina, it is a misdemeanor if someone fails to properly and safely store a firearm.

Brown says the shooting is tragic and he believes an important reminder to everyone.

“Gun safety is paramount,” the sheriff said. “Whether you have children in your home or not, you may have visitors who bring children over like that. Everyone should secure their weapons.”

Deputies said they will consult with the district attorney about any possible charges in the case.

This is a developing story, check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: Woman airlifted to hospital after shooting in Lenoir, suspect charged)