A 3-year-old girl was shot and killed Monday after she and her sibling gained access to a loaded gun in their parent's bedroom, Chattanooga police said.
The girl, who was shot in the chest at her family's rented house at 2008 Tinsley Place off 23rd Street, was transported to T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, Chattanooga police spokeswoman Jerri Weary said, adding the girl "may have been accidentally shot" by her sibling.
When police arrived shortly after 3 p.m., the girl was unresponsive, Sgt. Weary said.
The owner of the house, Bob Haynes, who also owns the business where the girl's father works, said the young girl's stepbrother, who was either 5 or 6 years old, had fired the shot. There also was an older stepsister in the house during the shooting, he added.
"It was just a situation where a child got a gun and fired a shot and it was fatal," said Mr. Haynes, owner of Haynes & Haynes tire store on South Hawthorne Street.
Mr. Haynes said the girl's mother called the father while he was working at the nearby tire store, and he ran to the house and found his daughter lying on the couch.
"He is a fine employee and a fine daddy," Mr. Haynes said, adding the girl was the only one the couple had together.
Paul Livarchuk, who works at nearby Certified Auto Repair and Sales, said he saw the mother outside of the house after hearing "a bunch of screaming."
"She had the kid in her arms and it was just limp," Mr. Livarchuk said. "It made me kind of sick."
Sgt. Weary said police are still examining the details of the case and "any further action" is pending due to the investigation.
This was the city's 12th homicide of the year.