AUBURN, Calif. — A 13-year-old Auburn boy was shot and killed on Tuesday while playing with a gun with his younger brother and another friend. The gun owner was arrested that night.
Officers were first called out to the home in the 1000 block of Redhawk Lane around 8 p.m. Tuesday on reports of the shooting.
Auburn police say this was a tragedy that could have been prevented.
They say the teen and two other kids found an unlocked gun in the house and started playing with when his parents weren't home, before the shot was fired.
"It's difficult because it is a tragic accident but there is some culpability there as well," Sgt. Tucker Huey, a spokesman for the Auburn Police Department said.
Auburn police say the parents were out running errands when three kids got into their 23-year-old roommate's bedroom and found a handgun unsecured in a nightstand Tuesday night.
"There was no lock on the bedroom door and then obviously there was no lock on the firearm," Sgt. Huey said.
Police believe the kids, ages 10, 13 and 14, played with the gun until it was in the hands of the 13-year-old boy who accidentally fired the gun at his head. He died on scene.
"For the gun owners, if your kids have access to a firearm, there are legal repercussions, and you have a legal and moral obligation to secure those firearms," he said.
Auburn police arrested the family's roommate, 23-year-old Malik Hughes, for Criminal Storage of a Firearm. This is a California law which says a person cannot store a gun where a child may access it and it is an offense if a child gets it and injures himself or another person.
"Even one is too many, one accident like this," Karl Nelson, the lead instructor for Alpha Safe CCW said.
Nelson is the lead instructor for Alpha Safe CCW, an approved Concealed Carry Weapons instructor through Placer County.
"To live up to that law, every gun should be locked up with a California approved locking device, either a cable that goes through the action of the firearm that disables it from being loaded and fired or a box type container that's locked that you can't easily break into," he said.
Cables rendering the gun inoperable, traditional lock boxes or even gun safes are what he says could have prevented a tragedy like this and are all examples of things every California gun owner should already have.
"When a child finds a gun, the first thing they want to do is pull the trigger, right? So they can easily shoot themselves or someone with that gun, so we have to store that gun so that it's unaccessable to them," he said.
That Criminal Storage of a Firearm charge is a felony punishable up to three years in prison.
This case is still under investigation at this time and police say it is possible that more charges could be filed.
Investigators say Hughes, who was “periodically staying at the home”, failed to properly lock the gun away. He was booked into the Placer County Jail on $50,000 bail.
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