A gun left out in a Kansas City home led to the accidental shooting of a 4-year-old girl.
The girl remains in critical condition on Friday.
A father left his house and forgot his loaded gun in the living room, according to police. His wife didn't know the gun was out and within easy reach for small children.
Police said it appears another child in the house was playing with the loaded gun when it went off and now don't believe the little girl accidentally shot herself in the head.
"We saw police show up and a crime scene, so we assumed something bad happened," nearby neighbor Dan Peters said.
Peters was at home taking a shower when his dad told him about the emergency that was happening just two doors down near 105th Terrace and Monroe Avenue in south Kansas City.
Medical personnel were called to the area about 11:52 a.m. Thursday after a woman ran to a neighbor's house and asked the neighbor to call 911.
"He (my dad) came out and he saw the ambulance come and saw it was a small body on the stretcher, so he assumed it was a kid," Peters said.
Officials said a 4-year-old girl was playing in a room of the home with three other children who are all between the ages of 4 and 6. There was a loaded gun left on a chair in the room.
The girl's stepmother left the room and told police she came running back in when she heard the gun go off.
The girl was taken to Children's Mercy Hospital with critical injuries.
"It sounds like the gun was in the room with all the children, and we can't tell what exactly happened because the adult was out of the room," Sgt. Marisa Barnes with the Kansas City Police Department said.
Police said they will continue to investigate and forward the case onto the prosecutor's office, who will determine if charges will be filed.
Police said they have a lot of questions for the family, but those questions will wait while the woman, father and other children are at the hospital with the wounded little girl, who is undergoing surgery.
"Charges will be left up to the prosecutor, of course. But we always stress to have weapons secure, especially around children, so accidents like this don't happen. Unfortunately, we have to have something like this to bring attention to this issue," Barnes said. "We don't mind people having guns to protect themselves of that nature, but you have to be responsible with it."
Barnes said the accident should serve as a reminder to others.
"Just please, if you own weapons, secure them properly, especially around children," Barnes said.
Gun experts say tragedies like this one can be avoided by using gun locks.
"You insert a key into that key lock and you'll turn it and lock it. It's just that simple," said Brian Holmes of OMB Guns in Olathe. "It's completely preventable. It's negligence by the owner. A firearm should not be left loaded unless it's in the control of the person who purchased it."
Holmes said legally sold weapons come with standard issue locks.
"The lock can be run down the barrel, through the magazine well or through the cylinder of the revolver locking it so that the gun cannot fire," he said.
Unloaded guns should be stored in a gun safe, Holmes said.
KCTV5's DeAnn Smith and Dave Jordan contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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