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Kokomo baby shot in head during gun-cleaning accident, officials stress need for firearm safety

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By Marisela Burgos

KOKOMO, Ind. (Oct. 23, 2014)-- After a baby boy was shot in the head Wednesday, the Howard County Sheriff said it appears to be an accident.

Sheriff Steven Rogers said his department is investigating the case. Deputies were called to a home in the 400 block of Fawn Drive around 5 p.m. Wednesday on a report that two people had been shot.

Tone Burton lives next door. He said he heard a gunshot.

“And then immediately after, a girl came out in the front yard with her kid. She started screaming 'someone call 911. My kid (has) been shot' and then a few minutes later the dad came out and he was…he had his leg tied up,” Burton said.

Sheriff Rogers said the 9-month-old baby’s father was cleaning his gun at the home. The handgun was loaded. A bullet went through the left thigh of John Hambaugh III, 31. The bullet went through him and hit the baby’s head. The baby was standing next to Hambaugh.

Both Hambaugh and his son were transported to Community Howard Regional Hospital in Kokomo.

Shortly after their arrival, the child was airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health where he remains in critical condition as of Thursday morning.

Hambaugh was treated and expected to be quickly released.

“It’s very sad and, you know, the officers that…many of the officers that were involved in this last night have children and everybody (is) looking at this as a very horrific happening and again we would just encourage people to exercise a lot of caution with firearms,” Sheriff Rogers said.

Sheriff Rogers said people need to be responsible when handling a weapon.

“The basic premise of all firearm safety is that you do not handle or manipulate a firearm around other people or in any kind of manner that would cause danger to other people without first being certain that there is not a loaded round in the weapons chamber,” Sheriff Rogers said.

Sheriff Rogers said people should take a basic safety instruction class so that an incident like what happened Wednesday does not happen again.

“You can’t be careful enough when it comes to handling a firearm,” Sheriff Rogers said.

Once the sheriff’s office completes their investigation, it will be turned over to the prosecutor’s office.