News & Politics

5-Year-Old Shoots Baby Brother Dead With Unsecured Gun Allegedly Belonging to Grandfather

Nine-month-old boy is shot to death by his brother who had access to a gun.

Photo Credit: tlorna/Shutterstock

A 5-year-old boy shot his 9-month-old brother, killing him with his grandfather’s handgun on Monday in the tiny rural town of Elmo in northwest Missouri. Reportedly, the weapon was not locked up and the older sibling had easy access to it. The shooting is belived to be accidental.

The Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 phone call from the boys’ mother, 24-year old Alexis Wiederholt, at around 9 a.m. The mother told authorities she believed her elder boy shot his brother with a paintball gun. But when emergency first responders arrived they found that the boy had been shot above the right ear with an exit wound on the other side of his skull, but was still alive. A loaded .22-caliber revolver was found on a bed near the playpen where the baby was found.

A medical evacuation helicopter arrived at the residence and flew the boy to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, some 120 miles away where he died just before noon.

Alexis Wiederholt and her four children were visiting her father from North Dakota. She was alone with them in the house when the shooting took place. While authorities are certain the shooting is accidental, they are investigating how the 5-year-old got access to the weapon. KETV News says the gun belonged to a relative of the boys, but not to the mother. They have not determined whether charges will be filed.

"Right now there’s nothing to indicate any foul play. It really looks like it was just a horrible, tragic accident,” said Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional shootings are a top cause of accidental death for children between the ages 1-4 and 10-14. The CDC has further stated that U.S. children are nine times more likely to die in gun-related accidents compared to other industrialized countries.

An advocacy group called Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America says that some 100 children are in killed accidental shootings a year. According to the gun safety organization, more than 2 million U.S. children live in homes that have unsecured firearms. The group has called for child access prevention laws across the country. Currently, 28 states have such laws

However, these laws take a variety of forms. The strongest of them state criminal liability when a minor gains access to a negligently stored firearm. The weakest merely prohibit persons from directly providing a firearm to a minor. Missouri's law prohibits persons from intentionally, knowingly, and/or recklessly providing children access to firearms.

Stronger child access laws have much public support, but despite this, the National Rifle Association has strongly opposed them. Cam Edwards, a spokesperson for the NRA, who hosts the organization’s radio show, has even gone on record as saying that there should be no criminal penalties for adults to provide minors access to firearms.

Last year, on his news program “Cam & Company,” Edwards said that if "you are careless with a firearm and one of your own children accidentally kills themself" the "horror" of the incident alone would be sufficient punishment for the adult.

Cliff Weathers is a former senior editor at AlterNet and served as a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. Twitter @cliffweathers.


Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018