GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A child fired a gun in Grand Rapids Tuesday morning, police say. No one was shot, though the child sustained injuries from debris.
It happened around 10:30 a.m. in the 1600 block of Coit Avenue between Sweet and Dale streets near Plainfield Avenue.
The Grand Rapids Police Department said a 2-year-old found a Glock 9 mm handgun and fired it inside a home.
“(The toddler) got access to his mother’s handgun. Mom was sleeping at the time. The child manipulated it, the gun went off. Fortunately, it fired into the ceiling,” said Chief Eric Winstrom, Grand Rapids Police Department.
GRPD said while the gunshot itself did not hurt anyone, it caused debris to hit the child, who sustained minor injuries.
“When you think of it, a child that small at 2 years old, he’s going to fire that handgun in close proximity to his body. In this case, what we’re worried about is potential for hearing loss, eye injury, things like that,” Winstrom said.
The case is the latest of a child getting hold of a gun in Grand Rapids. Last school year, there were four separate times when a Grand Rapids Public Schools student brought a gun into a school building. No one was shot in any of those cases.
“We ended up charging a couple parents with child abuse because they allowed access of their very small children to guns,” Winstrom said.
Aubrey Wilson, 32, was among those charged with a misdemeanor count of child abuse after her son brought an unloaded handgun to Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School. Her case was set for trial last week, but is now on hold after the prosecutor’s office issued a new charge of lying to police during a serious misdemeanor investigation. No new court date has been set and Wilson remains free on bond.
Chelsea Berkley was also charged in connection with the Chavez case. She is awaiting trial for being a felon in possession of a firearm. A status conference has been set for mid-October.
Winstrom said that the mother in Tuesday’s Coit Avenue case has been cooperative and the incident was an “accident,” but that charges aren’t being completely ruled out at the moment.
“We’ll look at the whole picture and examine all the facts before we move forward with that decision,” the chief said.
Often when guns are not properly stored, Winstrom said he hears the same refrain from gun owners:
“We hear a lot of times, ‘Well, the gun wasn’t locked up because I want to be able to get it quickly,'” he said.
He said there are ways to secure your weapon while protecting yourself.
“Whether it’s a trigger lock, or a cable lock — which we have for free down here at the police station, anyone can walk in and obtain one — or a safe that can be opened with a thumbprint, something like that. There are reasonable steps that you can take,” Winstrom said.
He reminded the community about Michigan’s new gun storage laws, which are expected to take effect in March of next year.
“No matter what the excuse is, if a child accesses that gun, that parent, adult, guardian, will be held criminally responsible. So it’s something to keep in mind,” he said. “I think this should be a learning lesson and I think we should all be thankful we’re not talking about the death of a child.”
—News 8’s Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.