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An 8-year-old boy in Pine Bluff, Arkansas died after being fatally shot by his 5-year-old brother. Deputies responded to a 911 call Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m. at a home located south of Little Rock on Shannon Valley. Authorities arrived at the residence and found the boy unresponsive. The call report stated the incident was a “shooting involving a toddler” with the 8-year-old child later declared dead at the scene.

According to PEOPLE, Sheriff Lafayette Woods of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said investigators believe the boy had died from an accidental shooting resulting from an unsecured gun that fell into the hands of the victim’s younger brother. As questions pour in on how the 5-year-old got hold of the weapon, Woods said that based on police reports, the mother was in the home at the time and was sleeping when she woke up hearing the gunshot and found the 8-year-old boy lying on the floor.

The boy’s body was taken to the state medical examiner where an autopsy will be performed to officially determine his cause of death. In a statement released by the County Sheriff’s Office, Woods called the incident a tragedy that could have been avoided saying the nature of the incident finds them at a loss for words most specially with the ages of the people involved.

“This is a tragic incident that could have been avoided. I can’t emphasize strongly enough that guns need to be well secured and kept out of the hands and away from children at all times," Woods added. He went on to point out how important it was to ensure that guns should always be secured and kept out of the children’s reach at all times. “Gun owners that do not properly secure their firearms are just one split second away from one of these tragedies happening in their home," the Sheriff added.

Police said there were 4 other children in the home when the incident took place. The Department of Human Services will be assessing the welfare of all siblings and will make a decision as to what happens to them pending investigation findings. Meantime, the siblings will be placed in the custody of a relative while the detectives are working on the case.

While still in the early stages of the investigation, police are actively pursuing to find out if the gun was in a secure area of the home when the toddler got hold of it. The answer will pave the way as to whether criminal charges will be filed.

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The local District Attorney's office will decide whether the shooting was justified once the sheriff’s office caps off their investigation. At this point, no evidence is available to incriminate the 12-year-old just yet. This is a representational image. PIXABAY