MERRIAM, Kan. — Merriam police are investigating after a child found a gun and shot his sister.
Police on Monday said they are not investigating the boy, but rather the adult who left the gun out.
Neighbors on Farley Court in Merriam said they were surprised to hear that a young girl was shot inside a duplex Sunday night.
“This block is full of kids, like the whole day from the time they get home from school 'til it’s dark. It’s just kids everywhere,” neighbor Tiffany Vega Garcia said. "I've lived on this block for almost 10 years and I mean, cops do come and go but I’ve never seen anything crazy like that."
Another woman who’s lived on Farley Court for 10 years said there’s never gun violence of any kind in the area.
Police said a 9-year-old boy got ahold of an unattended gun and it went off shortly before 8:30 p.m. Sunday in the 5200 block of Farley Court. A bullet hit his 10-year-old sister in the leg.
She’s expected to be okay.
The kids were visiting family members and do not live at the duplex.
“Even though there’s no specific law saying you have to lock your firearm up, common sense tells us we're not supposed to leave them where 10-year-olds can get them,” Merriam Police Chief Michael Daniels said.
Daniels said they're investigating the incident as child endangerment.
No one has been charged yet as of Monday afternoon.
Kansas and Missouri do not have any safe storage gun laws. Police can, at times, file child endangerment or manslaughter charges against an adult in cases where children get ahold of an unattended gun and harm themselves or someone else.
According to the Journal of Pediatrics, nearly 1,200 kids die and 6,000 are treated for gunshot wounds each year. Boys and minority youth are more likely to be affected.
Daniels said this incident should be used as a cautionary tale because the outcome could have been much worse. Merriam PD has been distributing free gun locks for years and will show residents how they work.
Merriam and many other metro police stations don’t require a background check if someone wants a gun lock.
“They're in our lobby. You don’t even have to talk to us. Just come and pick one up and leave,” Daniels said.
Vega Garcia said the incident could have been prevented.
“If you’re going to have a gun, be responsible. Put it up, don’t let your kids know where it is. Always make sure it’s locked. You got to protect your kids. Your kids come first,” Vega Garcia said.