A 5-year-old Missouri boy accidentally shot and killed his 7-year-old brother while looking for candy in a drawer on Saturday, according to the boys' family. The shooting marks the 150th time a child has been injured or killed by gun violence in 2018, according to a nonprofit that tracks firearm fatalities.
The victim, identified by family as Jermon Perry, was shot in the head while at his south St. Louis home. Jermon and his two brothers had been upstairs playing video games when the shooting occurred, the family said. The incident was confirmed by police in a statement to Newsweek.
"Preliminary investigation revealed three brothers were inside the residence upstairs while adults, including the parents, were downstairs in the home," a spokesperson for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said. "It is believed that one of the boys retrieved a gun from another room and fired a gunshot, striking victim in the head. The gun was recovered inside the residence. The circumstances surrounding the shooting are being investigated."
After the shooting, emergency responders scrambled to the scene and rushed the boy to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead after spending several hours in critical condition.
The distraught family told local news outlets they believe the 5-year-old was likely looking for candy in a dresser drawer and stumbled upon the gun, perhaps mistaking it for a toy. The firearm was kept holstered in one of the top drawers and belonged to Jermon's father, Jericho Perry, who had a concealed carry permit, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Protesters at a March for Our Lives rally against gun violence gather along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on March 24.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
“He never thought the kids would get to the gun,” Erica Jones, a close friend who is acting as a spokesperson for the family, told the Post-Dispatch. “They were in [an] upstairs bedroom, and their mother was in the kitchen cooking."
Jones added that candy was usually kept hidden from the boys to prevent them from overeating.
"The Homicide Division and the Child Abuse Division responded and are handling the investigation as a “Suspicious Sudden Death," the department said. Police declined to comment further on the shooting, citing an active investigation.
Missouri is among the more lax states when it comes to gun control restrictions, according to the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Jermon is one of two children killed by gun violence on March 31, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In the other case, a 4-year-old girl, identified as Nyla Jones, was fatally shot in the mouth during an argument between her mother and father at her home in Florida. The father later turned himself into police.
"It’s another unfortunate, senseless act of violence that needs to stop," Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said on Twitter. "People need to find other ways to resolve conflict aside from picking up a gun."
Two other children were injured in shootings on April 1, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
In St. Louis, a little boy killed his older brother in a shooting that appears to be an accident.
Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
The shootings come amid a groundswell of support for increased gun control, due in part to the activism of students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14. As a result, the state enacted legislation to combat gun violence, even extending the age restriction for long guns to 21, although it still ranks among states that have lenient purchasing policies.
More than 155,000 new volunteers have joined Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America since the Florida shooting, according to the organizations.
What's more, an additional 40 mayors have joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns alliance, including 10 from states that President Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of the NRA, won in the 2016 election, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
More from Newsweek