Local News

Second child killed in pellet gun accident

Posted February 28, 2011 10:30 a.m. EST
Updated February 28, 2011 6:53 p.m. EST

— For the second time in a week, a youngster in the Triangle has been killed in a pellet gun accident.

Alejandro Arroyo Mejia, 7, died Friday night at Wilson Medical Center after being shot in the chest, authorities said.

Melinda Mejia said her brothers, Alejandro and 4-year-old Ivan, were shooting cans with a pellet gun outside their home on Jaycross Road. She said the gun was a Christmas present for Alejandro, and Ivan cried because his brother wouldn't let him use it.

When Alejandro, a first-grader at Stantonsburg Elementary School, finally relented and handed the gun to his younger brother, the weapon went off, Melinda Mejia said.

Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard Jr. said the pellet gun involved in the shooting is recommended only for people age 18 and over.

"The parents buy (pellet guns) for their kids and basically give them to them. Buy the pellets, buy the BBs, send them outside and let them have fun," Woodard said. "As you can see, that fun turns into tragedy."

Investigators are trying to determine whether to file criminal charges against Alejandro's parents, he said.

A week ago, Ty-Rion Henry, 8, died after being shot with a pellet gun in his Raleigh home.

The boy's grandfather was checking to ensure the safety latch was engaged on the gun when it went off, striking him in the head, the family said.

No charges were filed in that shooting.

Raleigh police later warned the public about the design of such guns, noting the safety latch and trigger are next to each other.

Wilson County authorities said the gun in Alejandro's shooting has a similar design. The gun can be pumped up to 10 times to produce enough pressure to shoot a pellet at the same velocity as a .22-caliber handgun, they said.

It was unclear whether Alejandro or his brother had pumped the gun before it went off, authorities said.

Woodard said he would like to see Wilson County commissioners classify pump-action pellet guns as deadly weapons, as some other counties in North Carolina have done. That could lead to tighter restrictions on their use.

"I hope parents refrain from buying those types of weapons for kids. Even if it says for 10 years of age, I would wait until they are 18," he said.