Three-year-old girl accidentally shoots and kills younger brother

CACHE COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A College Ward family is mourning the loss of their two year-old son Saturday, after his three-year old sister shot him in the stomach Friday night. 

Investigators say this tragic shooting was completely accidental.  The family lives in a rural area, and neighbors say everyone in the tightly-knit community uses guns. 

Brad Povey was tending to the farmland of College Ward when he heard about the accident.  

"I don't even know these people, but I've had two and three year-olds, and that's pretty sad.  That's a tragedy," said Povey, who spends lots of time in College Ward for his work.

The shooting happened Friday night.

"At 6:40 P.M., our deputies were dispatched along with medical crews to an address in Young Ward," said Lt. Mike Peterson, Cache County’s Sheriff.

Once they got there, they found a two year-old boy with a single gunshot wound in the stomach.  They say his three year-old sister found the .22 caliber rifle on a nearby table.

"They were in the family room, from what I understand.  They were in the same room together," said Peterson.

Police say the gun was not loaded, but that it did have live rounds in the magazine.  How the girl was able to chamber a round and shoot is still a mystery.

"The paramedics responded. They were able to transport him to Logan Regional Hospital, and from what I understand, he went directly into surgery," said Peterson.

Life Flight flew the boy to Primary Children's Hospital, but investigators learned late last night that he did not make it. 

"Any time you're dealing with kids you know—especially the young deputies that have young kids of their own—you can't help but internalize that and think of your own kids," Peterson said.

"They are just a young little couple—sweet little family—that just needs to be supported and protected right now," said Melodee Olsen, a neighbor.

Community members expressed concern not just for the parents, but for the three year-old girl, who will have to grow up knowing she shot her little brother.

"Love her.  Be good to her.  It was an accident," said Norman Olsen, another neighbor.

Cache County officers say the investigation is now on hold because the family needs time to mourn their loss.  When it resumes, however, the next step in the process will be to figure out how the girl was able to load and shoot the gun.  

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