The Clark County district attorney’s office is reviewing the death of a 4-year-old boy who fatally shot himself in the southwest valley Tuesday.
The county coroner identified the boy as Bradley Whitis. He shot himself just before 2 p.m. Tuesday at a home on Chandler Springs Avenue, near West Warm Springs and South Fort Apache roads, and died at University Medical Center, police said. Initial reports said the child was 3.
The circumstances that led up to the shooting are unclear. But police said Bradley was at home with his father, identified through social media early Wednesday as Ron Whitis, and a 7-year-old child at the time of the shooting.
Whitis could not be reached for comment; he deactivated his social media account later Wednesday.
Metro’s homicide investigators handed the case off to the abuse and neglect section after learning the gunshot wound was self-inflicted, police said. The Clark County district attorney’s office has been briefed on the case and will determine whether to pursue criminal charges.
The investigation continued Wednesday; no determination on charges had been made.
Gun safety advocate Darchel Mohler said incidents like this are “like a kick in the gut.”
Mohler and her husband became advocates for gun safety and safe firearm storage after their daughter, 13-year-old Brooklynn Mae Mohler, was shot and killed by her best friend on the second-to-last day of school in 2013. They now run a foundation in Brooklynn’s honor.
“These incidents are 100 percent preventable,” she said Wednesday. “We need to store our firearms responsibly.”
Brooklynn was killed by a handgun left in a kitchen cabinet at her friend’s house. No charges were ever filed in connection with her death.
“The state needs to get on board and start holding these parents accountable,” she said of unintentional shooting deaths in general.
Mohler said these incidents are “negligent” and not accidental.
“There is technology out there where you can have quick access to your gun and keep your kids safe,” she added.
Mohler cried as she spoke to a reporter over the phone and said her heart aches for the Whitises.
“I wish they would have found me before this happened to their child,” she said.
Contact Wesley Juhl at email@example.com and 702-383-0391. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter. Contact Blake Apgar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Max Michor contributed to this report.
This year, there have been at least 161 unintentional shootings in the United States by children 17 years old or younger, gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety reports.
Project ChildSafe, a program run by National Shooting Sports Foundation, suggests gunowners follow these tips for safe firearm storage:
— Always keep the firearm unloaded and locked in a safe, cabinet or gun vault when not in use. Keep ammunition locked in a separate location.
— Use a gun locking device when the firearm is not in use.
— Educate people in the home on safety and have children tell an adult if they ever find a gun.