LifeNet of the Midwest

A medical helicopter crew member closes the door on a LifeNet of the Midwest medical helicopter after loading the three-year-old gunshot on Tuesday in what appears to have been an accidental discharge. The boy is expected to survive.

A 3-year-old local boy was transported to a regional trauma center after suffering a life-threatening gunshot wound that he is expected to survive.

Authorities from the Police Department, Fire Department and Atchison County EMS responded at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday on a report from the boy’s mother that her son had discovered a gun in the residence, picked it up and began handling it. The gun fired in his hands under uncertain circumstances, believed to be accidental, according to Police Chief Mike Wilson.

Wilson said that further details on how the boy came to find the gun and who it belongs to can’t be discussed at this time pending an investigation. On Thursday, Wilson said the boy obtained the gun from an unsecured pocket, part of a jacket found in the residence. 

“The child was conscious, wasn’t screaming or yelling, and was talking to us,” Wilson said. “He was a brave little man who had received a serious injury. And he was communicating to us as we were trying to help him.”

Wilson said the boy suffered a single wound through the abdomen, with the bullet entering and exiting. Atchison County EMS transported him from the residence, 1104 Santa Fe St., to Atchison Hospital where a medical helicopter with LifeNet of the Heartland arrived. Crews loaded the boy into the helicopter and it took off, bound for Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

Wilson said authorities would release further information as to the boy’s medical condition at a later date and that the boy’s mother has joined him at Children’s Mercy. There is cause for optimism on the boy’s long-term health based on observations by police, Wilson said.

“A very tragic situation — of course, the mother was very upset at this tragedy,” Wilson said. “So, we were trying to take care of her, too, along with the child. And that was done, it was done very quickly. But now it is time for the investigation to continue.”

Wilson said officers cleared the scene at 1104 Sante Fe by that evening, but inquiries will continue on the nature of the incident.

Asked if he can rule out a criminal inquiry, Wilson emphasized that authorities believe that the incident is accidental. He added that the police department’s complete understanding of how the child came to access the gun, among other data, will be forwarded to County Attorney Sherri Becker, who manages all local adult criminal cases.

At that point, Wilson said, it will be up to Becker to decide whether or not a crime occurred in relation to the incident.

“We will gather all the information, we will visit with the prosecutor (Becker) about any possible charges, if there’s any,” Wilson said. “In these types of situations, there’s several options available. But that’s something the investigation will reveal ...”

A previous version of this story used an incorrect name for LifeNet of the Heartland, a medical helicopter company.

Marcus Clem can be reached

at marcus.clem@atchisonglobenow.com.

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