TOMS RIVER, New Jersey (PIX11) — The tranquility of children playing on McCormick Drive in Toms River, a quiet suburban neighborhood, was shattered Monday night after a single gunshot rang out.
Police said a 4-year-old child was the one who fired a .22 caliber rifle from 15 yards away at his 6-year-old neighbor and playmate while the two were playing in his backyard.
The 4-year-old, police said, took the gun from inside his own home, but it’s still not clear if he pulled the trigger or it the gun discharged accidentally.
“The parents of the 4 year old are the ones who called 911. We’re all just trying to figure out what happened. It’s just a tragic situation,” said Toms River Police Chief, Michael Mastronardy.
Mastronardy told PIX11 the 6-year-old victim was struck in the head and then rushed by to Jersey Shore Medical Center. Meanwhile, a community tries to grapple with the tragic incident in their own backyards.
“Why is there a gun laying around the house. I don’t get that part,” said one neighbor.
“If you have young children around and you have a gun around put them away lock them up,” said another.
Mastronardy says at this point the department’s investigation is ongoing and their main focus is the family and the victim. However, he did acknowledge there were many questions surrounding the gun’s ownership and how it was secured. Pending the outcome of the investigation, charges could be filed.