published Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Tullahoma, Tenn., dad charged in shooting of his child

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    Kevin L. Sayre, 26, of Tullahoma, Tenn., was charged May 13 with aggravated assault in the unintentional shooting of his 13-month-old daughter.

BY THE NUMBERS

Unintentional firearm deaths among children aged 0 to 16 years in the United States from 2001 to 2010.

2001: 107

2002: 97

2003: 90

2004: 91

2005: 103

2006: 83

2007: 91

2008: 86

2009: 70

2010: 84

Total: 902

Unintentional nonfatal firearm injuries among children up to age 16 in the United States from 2001 to 2011.

2001: 2,246

2002: 1,700

2003: 1,007*

2004: 2,244

2005: 1,847

2006: 1,927

2007: 1,700*

2008: 1,450

2009: 1,441

2010: 1,010*

2011: 1,363*

Total: 17,935•

*Injury estimate is unstable because of small sample size. The CDC warns to use these numbers with caution.

•Total is unstable because of small sample size in some years.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center of Injury Prevention and Control

A Tullahoma, Tenn., father is behind bars and his 13-month-old daughter is hospitalized after the gun he was cleaning discharged and struck the toddler in the chest, authorities say.

Tullahoma Police Department Investigations Lt. Jason Ferrell said the baby's father, 26-year-old Kevin L. Sayre, is being held in the Nashville Metro Jail on a charge of aggravated assault. The gunshot left the child in critical but stable condition at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Ferrell said.

The toddler's name was not released.

The shooting happened just before midnight Sunday at the East Gate Apartment Complex in Tullahoma. Ferrell said Sayre and the child's mother, Kayla Ventress, 22, already had taken the baby to the Horton Regional Medical Center when police got to the apartment.

Ferrell said Sayre told police he thought the guns he was working on were empty.

"He said he had been firing the weapons earlier in the day at a range and that he was field stripping the weapons inside the residence and he thought he had cleared the weapon," the investigator said.

Sayre was demonstrating to Ventress and the registered resident of the apartment, Amy Potts, how the slides from each of his 9 mm pistols were interchangeable, Ferrell said.

"With the weapon he was taking apart, you have to pull the trigger to release the slide, and when he did that it discharged and struck the child in the chest," he said. "Apparently, he failed to clear the weapon."

Sayre was taken into custody by Vanderbilt police at the hospital in Nashville late Monday. He is awaiting transfer to Coffee County, Davidson County officials said.

Ferrell said the aggravated assault charge covers incidents in which a person is injured because of another person's recklessness.

There was no dispute, argument or confrontation involved in Sunday's shooting, Ferrell said. Sayre has a minor criminal history in Florida involving misdemeanor charges for driving offenses and passing bad checks, but no felonies or other charges of a violent nature, officials said.

Sayre last was working as a tattoo artist in town but it was unknown what he was doing for a living now, the investigator said.

When Sayre returns to Coffee County, he'll be held on a $20,000 bond, authorities said. He faces an initial appearance Thursday in Coffee County General Sessions Court.

SIMILAR INCIDENTS

A handful of similar cases have occurred in the region in the past few years:

• In March, a 13-year-old Marion County, Tenn., boy was accidentally shot in the shoulder by his father who was test firing a 9 mm pistol he had been working on. No charges were filed.

• In May 2012, a 3-year-old Bradley County, Tenn., girl accidentally shot herself with a .45-caliber pistol that belonged to her grandfather, a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper. He and other family members were charged.

• A few days later, an 11-year-old Catoosa County, Ga., girl died after her brother shot her with what he thought was an unloaded .38-caliber pistol while riding in the back of a pickup truck. No charges were filed.

• In late December 2012, a 2-year-old Harrison boy shot himself accidentally with a .40-caliber pistol his grandfather left on a chair. Grand jurors decided not to charge the grandfather.

Sources: The Associated Press, Times Free Press archives

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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