A toddler has shot dead a young father after finding what is believed to be his parents' handgun at their home in the US state of Georgia.
Police in the city of Savannah said in a statement that the shooting earlier this month was the result of "an accidental shooting by a young child," according to a preliminary investigation.
The tragic incident took place at the family's home on December 5.
"Savannah Police detectives have preliminarily determined that a shooting ... was the result of an accidental shooting by a young child.
"Officers responded to the 100 block of E. 64th Street around 5:30 pm for a shooting and discovered Dustin Walters, 25, with a gunshot wound. He was transported to Memorial Medical Center, where he died as a result of his injuries," police said.
"The preliminary investigation determined that Walters was wounded when a toddler, who was just under 2 years of age, found and fired the handgun, striking Walters."
Police chief Roy Minter told reporters he couldn't imagine the grief experienced by the young family.
"We grieve along with the Walters family... As a parent, I cannot imagine what this family is going through or will continue to go through in the coming years.
"What we want to make sure now is that parents are aware that although rare, these incidents can happen with tragic results," he said.
"Please take this seriously and take the steps to ensure that you and your family members are safe."
Police have not released any information on how the child was able to access the gun, or whether it was in a secure location.
It is legal in Georgie to own a handgun if you are over the age of 18. You must be 21 to purchase a handgun, however.
The police did not confirm Walters’ relationship with the child who caused the firing of the gun, but he and his wife Tori have a one-year-old son called Mars Cameron Walters.
The Savannah Police Department is asking the public to "please take a moment to think about the firearms in their homes and in any homes that their children frequent".
The police advised citizens to "make sure those firearms are secured and not accessible by children. If your children frequent a home where there are firearms, have a conversation with those people to make sure that firearms are secured and not accessible".
The Savannah Police Department said: "If your child is old enough, have a conversation about the dangers of firearms and advise the child to never touch a firearm. Also, tell the child to notify an adult know if they find a gun.
"However, experts advise that adults should acknowledge that children are curious and they should not rely on these conversations alone to be a deterrent.
"The Savannah Police Department has gun locks that are free to the public and can be picked up from headquarters or any precinct location."
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