A child was involved in an accidental shooting in Montana four times during a 2 ½ year span, an Associated Press review found.
The AP and the USA TODAY Network analyzed the circumstances of every death and injury across the nation from accidental shootings involving children ages 17 and younger from Jan. 1, 2014, to June 30 of this year — more than 1,000 incidents in all. Using information collected by the Gun Violence Archive, a nonpartisan research group, news reports and public sources, the media outlets found the deaths and injuries are happening at a pace that far exceeds the scope revealed by limited federal statistics.
Examining the issue state by state, Alaska and states in the Deep South rank far above the national per capita rate of just over three shootings per million people. Here’s a look at the cases found in Montana:
JUST SHY OF 4
A 26-year-old man believed his gun wasn’t loaded when he aimed it at a 3-year-old boy and pulled the trigger on Oct. 22, 2014, police said. The man was charged with negligent homicide in the incident, which authorities said started when he saw the boy holding his gun and took it away. The man told police the boy then ran away and looked back toward him with pretending to shoot a toy gun. The man then pointed his gun at the boy, thinking it wasn’t loaded because the magazine was in his pocket.
The boy was shot in the back and died less than three weeks before his 4th birthday.
HUNTING BUDDY UNLOADS GUN
A 56-year-old man was shot and critically injured when a 13-year-old hunting companion unloaded his gun on Oct. 26, 2014, during hunting season for elk and deer. The hunting party of three or four others then hoisted the man onto an all-terrain vehicle and met an ambulance at the highway.
A Billings boy startled at being awakened in the middle of the night fired a shot through his bedroom window and killed the 15-year-old friend who had been knocking on and throwing pebbles at his window. The teen was shot in the head and died a short time later.
Police said the shooter did not immediately recognize the two friends who showed up at the home early on May 17, 2015 and was afraid. The second boy outside the window was not hurt.
Their high school superintendent called the case a tragedy for the school and the district.