CLAYS MILL, VIRGINIA – A 31-year-old father was fatally shot by his 12-year-old son, who thought that it was someone breaking into their home. The incident happened on the afternoon of Friday, March 26th.
Halifax County deputies and Virginia State Police officers responded to the 5:15 p.m. call on Clays Mill School Road. On arrival, they found the father in the hallway near the entrance to the home, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Deputies and Halifax County Rescue members provided first aid, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sheriff Fred S. Clark provided some insight into the tragic event, saying that the child was home alone and “something spooked him” earlier in the day, leading him to arm himself with a .22 caliber rifle. Later in the day he heard someone at the door and fired a shot from the rifle down the hallway.
Upon hearing his mother’s voice, he realized too late that it was his parents entering the home at a different time than when they usually arrived home. Sheriff Clark commented, saying, “It’s just a sad situation all the way around, and my prayers go out to the family.”
The investigation is continuing, and charges are pending, according to authorities. Obviously, the young man is a juvenile and certainly did not shoot his father intentionally. Regardless of any charges that may or may not be brought against him, he will have to live with the memory and regret of the day for the rest of his life.
While it can be successfully argued that a 12-year-old can be said to have reached the age of accountability, if parents are going to allow a child access to a gun of any type, they must make sure that the child knows the basic rules of firearm safety. The child obviously knew that the gun was loaded, but he violated the three remaining rules. He pointed the muzzle in an unsafe direction, failed to identify the target and what was beyond it, and pulled the trigger without knowing who he was shooting at.
Perhaps he knew the rules but panicked in the moment and ignored or forgot them. If parents aren’t totally confident beyond a doubt that a child is properly trained, responsible, and psychologically prepared to properly handle a firearm under any circumstance, the child should not be allowed access to a gun.