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2-Year-Old Boy Dies Of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound In Joliet

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) -- A 2-year-old boy died Wednesday morning after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Joliet, police say.

Police said officers and detectives were on the scene in the 200 block of South Eastern Avenue, where "a small child has sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound."

At a news conference, Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English said the first officers on the scene immediately began life-saving measures and the boy was rushed to AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center Joliet, where he was pronounced dead.

As CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported, police themselves were still waiting on many details Wednesday afternoon. But investigators did say the boy's father was a legal gun owner.

They could not say what kind of safety measures were in place – only that it was insecure enough for the toddler to find it and use it.

The incident remained under investigation Wednesday afternoon, but English said it is being investigated as an accidental and "tragic, tragic death."

Police said the boy's father told them he had the gun stored in the living room TV stand – and after looking away for a "short amount of time," the toddler managed to grab the gun and shoot himself in the "head area."

When the boy's father called 911, he said the toddler was on the couch, police said. The father moved the boy to the kitchen table after being advised to place him on a hard surface – but the boy's life could not be saved.

Family at the house did not want to speak. But they told us the toddler's name was Angelo.

Neighbor Maria Quintero said she would see Angelo and his father take walks and play outside nearly every day.

"In the morning walking - because we have a camera, and see him walking with the kid and the dog," Quintero said. "Nice daddy, nice person."

In an emotional news conference, the investigators with the Joliet police extended their sympathy to the family. English and Joliet police Lt. Joe Ezigio noted what a difficult time it has been for officers there lately – particularly as this incident comes days after a crash that left a boy and his mother dead at Channahon Road and Hollywood Boulevard in Joliet.

Police pleaded with gun owners to keep guns stored where children cannot find them.

"I can attest as parent with my colleagues up here, things can go bad in a split second. You have to be conscious of where you're placing firearms if you own them," Egizio said. "I as a police officer and a firearm owner have to make that conscious decision every night."

While the father is a legal gun owner, police made a point to say criminal charges are always possible down the road – saying, "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Joliet police said the investigation into the boy's death remains active, and they are waiting for information from the Will County Coroner's office.


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