Sheriff: 4-year-old dies playing with loaded handgun

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HENRY COUNTY, Tenn. — Investigators said a 4-year-old girl in Henry County is dead after playing with a loaded handgun inside her home. The Henry County Sheriff’s Department said the incident happened in Buchanan late Friday night and that the family is asking for privacy. The sheriff’s department said the girl died after accidentally shooting herself with a handgun and that she was pronounced dead at the scene. Sheriff Monte Belew said keeping a gun unsecured in your home breaks no laws but sometimes leads to tragic events such as this. “Unfortunately, it will happen again somewhere in the state of Tennessee this year probably,” Belew said. “So that’s why we encourage the Eddie Eagle, the four steps.” The sheriff’s department received a grant from the National Riffle Association for the Eddie Eagle program, which teaches kids these four steps — “stop, don’t touch, leave the area and tell an adult,” Belew said. Belew said he thinks kids are curious about guns because of TV shows. “If you’ve got grandchildren coming over, if you’ve got children in the house, be responsible, explain it to them.” The sheriff’s office recommends if you want to keep a gun in your home to keep it secured with a lock or keep it in a gun vault that is accessible with a key or with a fingertip combination. Belew said explaining guns to kids eases their curiosity but that it is also critical to keep the guns secured. Chief Deputy Randy Jean leads by example. “Every night when I get home — I have grandchildren — I make sure I put my gun into that safe and lock it,” Jean said. Belew said at this time they are calling this an accident. Investigators said as of now no charges have been filed. The Henry County Sheriff’s Department gave away 500 free gun locks within the last year and said they will do so again in the near future.

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