ST. LOUIS — A 3-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the back by a young sibling Tuesday afternoon in north St. Louis.
A source told 5 On Your Side's Christine Byers the gun belonged to the 48-year-old father of the two children. The father, who was distraught when police arrived at the scene, told officers his children had gotten hold of the firearm and were playing with it when one child accidentally shot the other.
The shooting is the latest in a recent increase in shootings of children.
A Washington University and University of Missouri study showed a sharp rise in pediatric gunshot injuries in recent years.
"In 2017, firearms became the No. 1 killer of kids," said Dr. Lindsay Clukies, a Washington University pediatric emergency physician. "[More of] our kids die from firearms, from being shot than anything else."
She's co-author of a study that shows a 50% increase in gunshot wound victims 18 years old and younger at Children's Hospital since 2015.
"If this was a disease, if a disease was killing kids the way firearms are, we would be screaming from the rooftops, coming up with all of these ideas," Dr. Clukies said. "We need to approach it the same way from a public health perspective and keep our kids safe. "We are seeing a child coming to our ER right now shot at the same rate we see a child with appendicitis. That's about one in every two-and-a-half days."
Clukies said each shooting sends a shockwave through the Emergency Department. The study shows both intentional and accidental shootings are driving up the numbers.
All of the shootings are avoidable and BJC is helping secure more weapons. They are handing out free gun locks in all Emergency Departments, no questions asked.