MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. -- A 2-year-old boy is dead after he found his mom's unsecured gun and shot himself, police say.
The shooting occurred Thursday morning on Kitchen Road just south of East Centenary Road. Morgan County Sheriff's Department Captain Brent Worth said the mother called police around 6:30 a.m.
Worth said they believe it was an accidental self-inflicted shooting, and the boy died at the scene. He was identified as Anthony Jones, 2, of Indianapolis.
"It’s just unbelievable. It's so sad," said neighbor Cecil Eason.
Eason said the homeowners were camping and their daughter was house sitting looking after their golden retrievers. He described the victim as a playful little boy.
"If I had a grandson, I’d be proud to have one like him. He was just a joyful little toddler. It upsets me terribly," said Eason.
Investigators say the mother told then she went to the restroom while Anthony watched television when he found his mom's unsecured gun.
"It’s unfortunate things like this happen. It’s tough on investigators, friends, family and neighbors," said Worth. "It’s my understanding she was home sitting and not familiar with the area and had the weapon out for protection."
Studies by the gun violence archive show in recent years, Indiana has seen a lot of accidental shootings involving children, ranking seventh-worst nationally in 2016.
In 2017, FOX59 set up hidden cameras to see what kids would do if they came across a real gun. Several children not only picked up the unloaded weapon, but some also pointed it at other kids.
Neighbors hope the deadly shooting again serves as a reminder to all parents to lock their guns up whenever kids are around.
"You can’t be lazy. You've got to realize how things can change so quickly and so tragically," said Eason.
The mother is said to be cooperative, but it will be up to the prosecutors office to decide if any criminal charges should be filed.
Officials said the gun was a Taurus .380 handgun. The child's father was not present at the home.