MUNCIE, Ind. — A young child has died after a shooting on Muncie’s southside Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Muncie Police Department, officers were called to the 2800 block of S. Monroe Street at approximately 2:25 p.m. for a reported shooting inside a home.
Police said when officers and Muncie Fire Department/EMS arrived on scene, they discovered someone had fired a gun inside the house, hitting the victim, a 5-year-old girl.
Muncie Police Department officers and other first responders blocked intersections across the city as the victim was rushed to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, where officials said she was pronounced dead.
“All I could have done, and what I did do, is pray for the family,” a woman who lives in the neighborhood shared.
The resident, who did not want her name shared publicly, said the news of what happened left her heartbroken. It was a sentiment echoed by other neighbors we spoke to in the hours after the shooting.
“I have three grandchildren close to that little girl’s age. I don’t know how I would feel or how I would do, but my heart goes out to the family,” the woman shared. “It’s sad.”
Through the investigation, police said they were able to determine it was the victim’s 6-year-old brother who fired the gun.
“Through the investigation it was determined that a 6-year-old male sibling had retrieved a gun from a safe in the residence and had accidentally shot his sister,” shared MPD Deputy Chief Melissa Criswell.
Investigators from the Muncie Police Department remained on scene throughout the afternoon and evening at the home on S. Monroe St. An evidence technician and detectives were observed going in and out of the home, as the street remained closed off to traffic.
Police also announced late Tuesday night that the parents of the two children, 27-year-old Kimberly Grayson and 28-year-old Jacob Grayson, were arrested for Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death, a Level 1 Felony, and multiple Neglect of a Dependent charges, Level 6 felonies.
Police shared that there is no threat to the community and said this remains under investigation. The identity of the victim has not been released.
When it comes to young gunshot victims, many are treated at trauma centers specializing in pediatric care in Indiana, but Doctor Tyler Stepsis, Chief of Emergency Medicine for Eskenazi Health, said he knows firsthand the potentially devastating impacts these injuries can have on anybody, especially a child.
“You never want to think about anyone being injured by gunfire, but especially a child, innocent lives are innocent for a reason,” said Stepsis. “Even for those who survive, that fear, that grief, tends to be with them for a long, long time.”
Although Stepsis isn’t involved in this specific case, generally speaking, he said it can never be reiterated enough about the importance of gun safety and education in hopes of preventing a potential tragedy.
“Keeping it locked up is the most important thing,” said Stepsis. “Not everyone can afford a safe, but most everyone can afford a trigger lock.”
He also recommends taking measures to leave the gun unloaded, even if it is in a safe.
“It’s one of those things where having that gun secured in the best way possible and storing the ammunition separate from the gun, keeping the gun from reach. Kids are curious. They typically don’t follow the multi-step process to find ammunition, load a gun, and fire a gun, so it’s an opportunity injury unfortunately,” said Stepsis.
Beyond people living in a home, Stepsis said taking measures to secure a firearm properly can also be proactive in keeping visitors safe.
“Consider others when you do have people over, because you don’t know who’s gonna get into your possessions, your belongings. Anyone can find anything. They can stumble across it, so the more we can talk about it, the more that we can talk about gun safety, the more that it’s welcomed to ask,” Stepsis said.
He encouraged everyone to have a conversation about safety around guns with their children, even if you don’t have a firearm in your home.
“I think the biggest piece of advice, especially for people who have children in their care, whether it’s parents, grandparents, uncles, whatever, if your child is going somewhere, ask about guns, ask about gun safety,” said Stepsis.
Stepsis said he knows what it’s like for a family to lose a loved one after a traumatic event, like an unintentional gunshot injury, and he also knows the realities faced by the trauma surgeons, doctors, nurses, any healthcare worker that played a part in doing everything they could to save that person’s life.
“I think anyone who has a child in their life, whether it’s mother, father, uncle, whoever, it’s one of those things where you can imagine that’s your child. Just the amount of soul-rendering, crushing, just sadness and despair and grief that happens,” Stepsis explained. “We’re all a community and every time someone dies, it hurts everyone.”
Neighbors in the community where the 5-year-old girl died after the shooting on Tuesday echoed that message.
“It’s hard to let a child go even though you don’t even know the child,” shared a neighbor of the victim.