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4-year-old shot herself in shoulder playing with a gun in Southeast DC

Detectives are calling it aggravated cruelty to a child.

WASHINGTON — Police say a 4-year-old girl shot herself in the shoulder using a gun that had been left around by an adult in Southeast D.C. over the weekend.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the shooting happened in the 1800 block of 28th Place on Jan. 28. The 4-year-old girl was taken to an area hospital for help just before 9:30 a.m.

When officers arrived they learned the girl was conscious and breathing. Investigators said the girl shot herself in the shoulder with a gun that had been left around by an adult. Detectives are calling it aggravated cruelty to a child. 

There has been no update released on the little girl's condition, nor have police released her name. 

In a public report, investigators said the gun had been left by an unknown person where the child had access to it, and the child ultimately played with the gun. The 

"The unknown suspect engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of bodily injury," the report went on to say. 

Neighbor Patience Rogers wept as she talked about the injured child. 

"The mental trauma the baby is going to experience for the rest of their life, even if they survive the shooting...." she said.

Rogers said she’s said hello and offered help to the little girl’s mother, but is terrified there were guns in the home. 

"Inevitably some child always finds it and an accident occurs," she said through tears.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital says millions of children live in homes with guns. These kind of accidental shootings are still rare, but the CDC says they’ve ticked up over the last decade. In 2021, 3,597 children died by gunfire, according to the CDC, with 51 kids under the age of four being killed by accidental discharge of a firearm.

"I’m angry about it," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said. "All parents should think about: 'Where are your kids? Whose house are they at? Are they responsible? Should they be there?'"

Nationwide Children’s Hospital says the safest thing for children is not to have guns in their home. But if you have a gun in the home, the hospital says keep it unloaded and locked – out of reach and out of sight of children – with the ammunition and the guns stored and locked in separate locations.

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