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Man arrested after 3-year-old boy finds gun, accidentally shoots self in north St. Louis

Police said the boy found a gun and accidentally shot himself in the head.

ST. LOUIS — A 3-year-old boy is in critical condition and a man was arrested after police said the child got a hold of a gun and accidentally shot himself in the head in St. Louis Wednesday afternoon.

According to police, the boy was brought to a St. Louis hospital at around 1:50 p.m. with a possible graze wound. Police said the boy was conscious and breathing when he arrived at the hospital, but they later updated that he was in critical condition with unstable vital signs.

He was then taken to another hospital where he went into surgery. Police did not give an update on the boy's condition Thursday.

In a Thursday update, police said the boy "retrieved a firearm from a mattress and accidentally shot himself in the head."

Police also said Thursday that a 22-year-old man was arrested.

Police said they believe the shooting happened in the 3500 block of N. 11th Street.

Tiffany Williams rushed home on North 11th Street after getting a call that her best friend's son was shot inside of her house.

"Apparently her son got a hold of the gun, one of my friends that was watching him, he got a hold to the gun and he shot himself," Williams said.

Williams' friend, who she said is like a cousin to her, was watching her best friend's 3-year-old son while her best friend was at work.

"I don't blame the mom at all," Williams said. "Somebody was supposed to be watching your kid, you expect your kid to go be well cared for if they're watching them."

Williams said the man that was looking after the boy was trustworthy and had helped care after her own kids many times.

"It was the irresponsibleness. That's how it happened, because he cares about kids. He loves kids, if he knew that little boy grabbed that gun he would've immediately got it from him," Williams said.

Now, they're left waiting; hoping for the best and fearing the worst.

"I don't know what's about to happen. That's two people I'm losing. My dearest cousin and a baby that's close to me. I've known him since birth. So it's really getting to me," Williams said.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's Child Abuse Unit is investigating.

According to data tracked by 5 On Your Side, this is at least the 46th child 17 and under to be shot in the city of St. Louis this year.

Resources for crime victims:

If you have been a victim of a crime or know someone who has been, 5 On Your Side has compiled a list of resources.

Better Family Life is a nonprofit community development organization working to “stabilize inner-city neighborhoods.” One aspect of its mission is a gun violence de-escalation program.

To learn more, call 314-381-8200 or visit https://www.betterfamilylife.org/

Life Outside of Violence “helps those harmed by stabbing, gunshot or assault receive the treatment, support and resources they need to find alternatives to end the cycle of violence.”

To learn more, call 314-327-6697 or email: ProjectLOV@WUSTL.edu

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has an anti-crime program called “Safety Net for Youth Initiative,” which is a joint partnership with Saint Louis Public Schools to provide services to at-risk youth.

To learn more, visit https://www.ulstl.com/anti-crime-initiative.html

Cure Violence is an international organization that has recently launched in a handful of St. Louis neighborhoods. Violence interrupters are trained to deescalate violent situations within their own communities. To learn more, visit https://cvg.org/

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