SPOKANE-- New details have been released about what happened the day the 10-year-old daughter of a Spokane police officer accidentally shot herself with her father's service gun.
According to a release from Brian O’Brien with the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney, on Easter Sunday morning, Barry O’Connell took his service handgun out of his nightstand to clean it, and placed it on his dresser by the bedroom window. Before he could clean it, he became involved in other activities, including getting ready for and going to church.
According to the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney O’Connell went to church, and when he returned he spent the next couple of hours attending to the Easter dinner guests and helping to prepare the Easter meal.
Mr. O’Connell’s 10 year old daughter and her neighbor friend finished the meal early. They went upstairs, where the daughter’s room is located, but went into her parents’ bedroom. They went there secretively so that they could look for Easter eggs from her parent’s bedroom window, which overlooks the backyard wherein the Easter eggs were hidden for the Easter egg hunt. They looked out the window and saw some of the hidden eggs from their vantage point.
Mr. O’Connell’s daughter then began to play with the gun that was on the dresser; the gun went off and injured her. She was rushed to the hospital by her father and one of her father’s friends.
Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney said the daughter had handled unloaded guns in the past under her father’s supervision, to remove any mystery or mystique surrounding firearms. She also had her own BB that she used under adult supervision. The close neighbors interviewed by the Sheriff’s Department also said that Mr. O’Connell was very serious about gun safety.
The parents’ bedroom, where the gun was accidently left on the dresser that morning, was off limits to the daughter and her two older brothers, other than for taking showers. The children had been taught this.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office did an extensive investigation, interviewing family members, neighbors, and Mr. O’Connell. By all study and legal review, this is an accidental shooting. It may rise to the level of negligence, but does not constitute chargeable criminal conduct under these facts.