Local News

Toddler might have thought gun was toy

Posted July 22, 2010 6:29 p.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2010 7:41 p.m. EDT

— The parents of a 2-year-old Raleigh boy who shot and killed himself one month ago said Thursday that they regret buying him a toy gun, which they believe gave him the wrong idea about real guns.

Now Kim and Timothy Atwater want to spread a message to other parents about gun safety.

"If you have to own guns in your home, try to put them in a place where they're not visible," Timothy Atwater said Thursday. "I don’t want no one else to encounter what we're going through."

T.J. Atwater was with his mother visiting family in Vance County on June 22 when he grabbed a gun on a counter.

"I feel like, within my heart, that if my wife and I had never purchased that toy gun, T.J. would not have known what a toy gun was," Timothy Atwater said.

Authorities decided this week not to file charges in the case, because the child did not live at the residence where the shooting happened.

Kim Atwater said guns at the home where the shooting happened were normally secured and that the adults who lived there did not realize one gun had been left out.

"They took good care of T. J.," she said. "We visited them a lot. This was just an accident."