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Two men arrested after 3-year-old boy finds gun in couch, shoots 2-year-old sister


A 2-year-old girl is in an “exceptionally critical condition” after being shot by her 3-year-old brother late Friday when he found a handgun that had been hidden in a couch, according to a Florida sheriff’s office.

The shooting took place at a residence in West Lakeland where three men had met to watch an NBA playoff game on Friday night, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a Saturday news conference.

Just before midnight, the men “heard a pop and they immediately looked to see that the 2-year-old female had been shot, and was on the couch, and the 3-year-old scrambled from the living room, running and crying to his bedroom,” said Judd.

The men gathered both children and “raced toward the hospital,” the sheriff said.

“A vehicle turned into their path and they T-boned the vehicle on Olive Street, and there were significant injuries from that as well,” Judd said.

A good Samaritan stopped, and took the 2-year-old and one of the men to Lakeland Regional Health, Judd said.

The girl has had one surgery and is expected to have others, the sheriff said. She was shot in the chest, and it appears the “projectile went downward through the pancreas, and maybe the large and small intestines and out the back,” Judd said.

Judd described the girl as “a beautiful 2-year-old lady” and her brother as a “wonderful child.”

“Certainly, baby needs our prayers … as does the entire family,” Judd said.

Two men face charges

“No one in that house, that night, intended for those babies to have that event that occurred,” Judd said. “Obviously the 3-year-old’s not going to be charged with a criminal event, for obvious reasons. That child can’t be held accountable for his conduct — there is absolutely no reason to think that that was an intentional act other than he was a baby playing with what he saw was some sort of toy. But, we will hold the adults appropriately criminally liable for the conduct.”

All three men have fully cooperated with police, according to Judd. The children’s mother was with her sister and not in the home at the time of the shooting, he said.

Deputies searched the home following the car accident and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia, the sheriff said.

Kevonte’ Wilson, 23, had the concealed firearm and brought it to the house, Judd said. Wilson told the sheriff’s office that he hid the gun, a Hi-Point CF-380, in the couch to keep it away from the children.

“I don’t know how you think you safely keep a gun away from children when you stick it between the couch,” Judd said.

Wilson was arrested and charged with failure to safely store a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The home’s owner Chad Berrien, 24, has four outstanding warrants to appear in court, Judd said. Besides the four warrants, he now faces charges of possession of marijuana over 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a house for drug use.

CNN has not been able to determine whether Berrien and Wilson have legal representation.

Berrien told the sheriff’s office he did not know Wilson had the .380 caliber handgun, Judd said.

Police anticipate additional charges will be filed against Wilson in a week because Florida law states “when a minor child is accidentally shot by another family member, no arrest shall be made … prior to seven days after the shooting.”

The third man who was at the home will not face any charges and the 3-year-old boy has been placed in the care of his grandmother, Judd said.

Judd said he is unable to provide details about the men’s relationship to the children, citing Marsy’s Law, which provides rights to crime victims, including the right to keep information confidential that could be used to locate a victim.

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