WACO, Texas — The Waco Police Department said a 2-year-old boy died from a gunshot wound to the head, after finding a gun in the backpack of an adult family member.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, officers responded to the University Club Apartments in reference to a shooting.
Officers located the 2-year-old victim suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to Baylor Scott and White Medical Center- Hillcrest Hospital where he later died.
"While at the scene, investigators learned that the 2-year-old victim had located a firearm in a backpack belonging to an adult family member," said the police department. "At this time, it is believed that the victim may have accidentally shot himself with the firearm after finding it. After the shooting happened, the owner of the firearm took the weapon and fled the scene, but later returned and was taken into custody."
The family member -- identified as 21-year-old Derrick Pipkins -- was charged with tampering with physical evidence. Police said other charges may be coming.
According to police, Pipkins was the child's uncle.
The victim's name will not be released at this time, due to his age.
Unintentional shootings by children
As of Sept. 17, there have been at least 272 unintentional shootings by children in the United States, according to Everytown -- -- a nonprofit that advocates for gun control.
Those shootings resulted in 111 deaths and 175 injuries.
Taking a closer look, 23 of those shootings were in Texas, including one in Waco. In July, a five-year-old boy was injured after he found a gun in the backseat of his mother's car.
Gun experts recommend several ways to keep guns out of the hands of children and to prevent accidental shootings.
Project Child Safe recommends you:
- Store unloaded firearms in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage case in a location that is inaccessible to children
- Use gun locks as an added safety measure. According to Project Child Safe, you can call your local police department to get a free gun lock.
- Store ammo in a locked location separate from firearms
Doing those things could have prevented the latest tragedy. But they are not realistic when a firearm is used for home defense.
In those cases, gun experts recommend keeping the gun in a safe that you can quickly access with your finger print or a short pass code.
Also, teach your kids gun safety.
"Firearm safety, no mater what age, there really is no excuse not to talk about it, not to do it," said Johnny Price, owner of Big Iron Handgun License Training.
- Always assume a gun is loaded
- Never touch a gun unless supervised by an adult
- Keep guns pointed in a safe direction (NRA)
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot (NRA)
"So you treat it with respect that it might be loaded," said Price. "When you touch it and you know it could go off anytime, so you need to have the muzzle in a safe direction."
The NRA recommends parents use the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program to help teach your child what to do if they find a gun.