Investigators convinced 4-year-old did, in fact, accidentally shoot mom with shotgun

Despite widespread skepticism, investigators are completely convinced the Monday night incident in which a 4-year-old South Kitsap boy apparently wounded his 23-year-old mother with a shotgun happened exactly as reported.

“When we first heard about it, we couldn’t imagine how a thing like that could happen, either,” said Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson. “But once we arrived on the scene, the evidence made it pretty clear.”

The episode began around 4:16 p.m., when deputies were dispatched to a report of a gunshot injury sustained by a young woman at a residence in the 10400 block of Glenwood Road SW, in South Kitsap.

According to Wilson, deputies arrived at 4:21 p.m. followed by a South Kitsap Fire & Rescue medic unit at 4:24 p.m.

Upon arrival, first responders found a 23-year-old female had sustained a gunshot injury to her left side.

The only other residents of the home of the incident were the woman’s two children, a girl age 2 and a 4-year-old boy.

It was later determined the boy, who had expressed curiosity about guns, somehow managed to load a shell into a shotgun and pull the trigger.

The mother didn’t hear him load the weapon, she said, because she was on the telephone.

The mother’s boyfriend, who is also the boy’s father, apparently gave him the shell, Wilson said.

The victim was transported to Tacoma General Hospital around 4:30 p.m., where she was treated and released that same night.

“Her injuries were substantial, but not life-threatening,” Wilson said. “The fact that she was shot with birdshot rather than regular buckshot undoubtedly saved her life. She was a mess, but she’ll recover.”

According to Wilson, the gun — a 12-gauge semi-automatic — was lying on a memory foam-type mattress in the bedroom, covered by a blanket.

“The boy’s father, knowing he was interested in guns, had given him a shell to inspect earlier but never took it back, figuring he had no idea how to load the weapon,” Wilson said. “Obviously he was mistaken.”

Wilson said the gun in question did not require that the pump be worked to chamber the round.

“With this particular weapon,” he said, “you just drop the shell in the action and push a button. Then you’re locked and loaded. That’s well within the capability of even a 4-year-old child.”

The gun’s safety wasn’t engaged, so when the boy subsequently pulled the trigger, it discharged.

“There was a chair in the way that caught a lot of the peas, so that helped, too,” Wilson said. “As strange as it may sound to say it, the victim got off pretty lucky under the circumstances.”

Wilson said investigators found powder burns on the sheets and mattress at the scene. Moreover, the 4-year-old quickly admitted what he’d done.

“He was very distraught — as you might imagine,” Wilson said.

Investigators also determined the boyfriend/father wasn’t in the house at the time of the shooting.

“I don’t know where he was, but he wasn’t home,” Wilson said. “He arrived soon after he was notified.”

Wilson said it’s possible one or more of the parents — even the victim — could be charged with negligence in the case by the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office.

“I have no idea what they’ll decide,” Wilson said, “but I imagine they’ll make a determination by the end of the week.”

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