ST. LOUIS — An investigation is underway after a young child shot himself in the head, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Police told 5 On Your Side they received a call for a shooting in the 900 block of Melvin Drive Wednesday around 1 p.m. Investigators said a 1-year-old boy shot himself in the head.
Police said he was barely conscious or breathing at the scene and was taken to a hospital by emergency responders.
Michael Sack, interim chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, has confirmed to 5 On Your Side the child died.
On Thursday, police identified the boy as Khori Patterson.
“We’re not really sure what happened or how the child accessed the gun. This is a terrible tragedy that this family is going to be going through for quite some time,” Sack said.
Sack is pleading to gun owners to lock up their guns.
“I would just implore to all parents or any guardian of a child who has a firearm in the home to please keep that in a safe area, away from the child so the child can’t get access to it or better yet, use a gun lock,” stressed Chief Sack.
Police said Khori got ahold of a gun while inside a home and accidentally shot himself. Sack called it “a terrible tragedy that should have never happened.”
“Guns are inherently dangerous," Sack told reporters outside the family's home. "There are a number of them in our community. All of us who own firearms or who have firearms must be responsible with their care and their use.”
Data compiled by 5 On Your Side shows so far this year, five children have been accidentally shot in St. Louis.
“It’s just awful to hear that. I also agree if people are going to have guns, they need to lock up their guns,” said neighbor, Elfirma Furlow.
Mayor Tishaura Jones echoed those pleas.
In a statement sent to 5 On Your Side, Mayor Jones said “losing a child is the biggest fear of any parent, and we must do everything we can to protect our babies.”
Mayor Jones also added “gun locks are available for pick up at city firehouses, police stations and libraries and I urge parents to get involve with Educators For Gun Safety to learn more.”
As of Thursday, police still haven’t said who was inside the home on Melvin Avenue when the 1-year-old boy was shot.
Editor's note: St. Louis police originally reported the child was 2 years old. Thursday, police put out an updated report stating the child was 1 year old.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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.
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."
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has an anti-crime program called “Safety Net for Youth Initiative,” which is a joint partnership with St. Louis Public Schools to provide services to at-risk youth.
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.