STATESVILLE, N.C. — Police are investigating after they said a child accidentally shot himself early Thursday morning in Statesville.
Officers told Channel 9 that a 10-year-old child was shot just before 7 a.m. on Compton Park Road, off Old Mountain Road.
Iredell County EMS officials told Eyewitness News they took one patient to the hospital.
Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell told Channel 9 that the child's head was grazed by the bullet and he was not seriously hurt.
Investigators said the boy found a gun in a car parked at the home. The gun accidentally went off and a bullet grazed his head.
Iredell EMS transported the boy to the hospital. The sheriff said he is expected to recover.
Marvin Norman, who is a county commissioner, said the community is close and most children grow up learning about gun safety.
The Sheriff's Office ruled the shooting accidental, but they are still investigating how the firearm was stored and how the child got access to it.
“A lot of time we have to be more careful, but we never know what a child would do," Norman said.
Crime scene investigators roped off the home with crime tape as they searched for clues to how the child might have gained access to the gun.
The Sheriff's Office is still deciding if charges will be filed.
Many neighbors said they heard about the shooting as they were waking up and getting their children ready for school.
“We kind went on alert, called a few neighbors,” Norman said. “We heard about a shooting, but we didn’t know what it was."
Neighbors said the community is very close and everyone looks out for one another. They said many children grow up around guns and are educated on gun safety.
The sheriff stressed that guns need to be stored properly.
In North Carolina, it is illegal to negligently store a firearm, and if a child can access it, it is a crime.
Over the past three years, five children were killed in accidental shootings in the state. Out of those cases, six adults were prosecuted. In South Carolina, six children were killed, but adults were charged in only half of those cases.
Campbell stressed the importance of securing your weapons.
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Cox Media Group