Crime & Courts

Sumter gun owner may be charged after accidental shooting of 14-year-old

Investigators with the Sumter County Sheriff's Office expect to file charges in the case of a 14-year-old boy shot in the leg Tuesday.

Charges won't be filed against another teen who accidentally fired the weapon while "playing" with it in a home in the 4200 block of Wrangler Trail. But the owner of the handgun could face a charge of unlawful neglect of a child for failing to secure the gun where the children couldn't get access to it.

Emergency responders were called to the home about 2:30 p.m. after a 15-year-old boy reportedly shot the younger boy in the thigh. He reportedly got the weapon from a neighboring home and went to show it to a friend when the gun discharged.

"This happened at the home next door to where the gun was kept," said Lt. Robert Burnish with the sheriff's office investigations division. "He got the gun and was showing it off, and unfortunately it was loaded and went off."

The gun reportedly came from the same address where another child was shot last year. On July 2, 2012, a 4-year-old boy was transported from a home on Wrangler Trail to Palmetto Health Richland after he apparently picked up an unsecured handgun and shot himself in the foot.

No adults were present when the latest shooting occurred. The victim was transported by EMS to Tuomey Regional Medical Center for treatment, and the other teen was taken in for questioning by deputies, who eventually determined the shooting was accidental. The gun was recovered from a wooded area behind the home where the boy reportedly threw it after the shooting.

Law enforcement recommends guns be unloaded whenever they are stored, and many retailers sell gun safes and inexpensive gun locks that can prevent handguns from being used without the owner's permission or knowledge.

"They just need to be kept out of the reach of small hands," Burnish said, "or really anybody's hands except the owner's."