HOLLISTER, N.C. — It is up to the Halifax County district attorney to decide if charges will be filed in a deadly shooting believed to be accidental.
A 12-year-old boy shot and killed his 10-year-old brother when they were playing with a shotgun Thursday. The boys' 8-year-old cousin was in critical condition Friday night after being wounded by the same bullet in the same accident.
The tragedy has renewed interest in a device that could have helped prevent the shooting.
Twelve-year-old Nicholas Evans and his parents talked at length with Halifax County investigators Friday about the incident, which occurred when the boys were playing with a shotgun when it went off.
Halifax County Sheriff Jeff Frazier believes it was a terrible accident.
"A double whammy I'm going to call it," Frazier said. "The kids were home from school. The parents had left to go to work. Because it started snowing, school was released, and they (the boys) got home with no supervision."
After the shooting, Nicholas ran into the woods. Hours later, scared and cold, the boy emerged and walked up to a WRAL news crew, which put him in a warm truck and contacted emergency crews.
Nicholas spent the night at home with his parents. Now it is up to the district attorney to decide whether the parents should be charged with not properly securing the gun.
Halifax County District Attorney Bill Graham said it is way too early in the investigation to think about bringing charges. He said he will continue to track the medical condition of the injured cousin.
A group that promotes gun safety already had planned to distribute gun locks in Halifax County when the accident occurred.
A worker with
stopped by the sheriff's office with more than 1,000 free locks for the public. Another 500 went to Scotland Neck police.
As a police captain demonstrated, the gun locks are simple to use.
"If one of these had been on that weapon, the accident would have never happened," said Scotland Neck Police Chief Ernie Newsome.
Nationwide, Project ChildSafe is handing out more than 20 million locks, hoping to prevent tragedies like the one here.
The gunlocks are easy to obtain. For example, if you purchase a gun, a gunlock comes with it. Or, you can pick one up free from any local law enforcement agency.