7-year-old shot by 9-year-old stepbrother in Snellville Chipotle parking lot, police say

SNELLVILLE — A 7-year-old is recovering at a hospital in Atlanta after police say his 9-year-old stepbrother accidentally shot him with his stepdad’s gun.

The gun was left unsecured inside of a car the children were in. The car was parked outside of a Chipotle in Snellville.

The child’s mother was inside ordering food at the time of the shooting.

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It’s not clear exactly where the gun was located inside of the car, but employees of Chipotle called police for help and tended to the child, who was shot in the face.

“Some kids came in and they were screaming that someone shot him. You could see the visible gunshot wound coming out from his ear. We just stayed here applying pressure to the wound until the paramedics came. The mom was right there. She was the one putting a towel on his wound,” said Johanna Cervantes, who works at the Chipotle.

Police said the child is stable at Egleston Hospital, but is expected to have more surgeries. The 9-year-old will not be charged.

Police said the gun was owned by the mother’s boyfriend, who had a license to carry it. The mother was driving the car at the time of the shooting. Her name has not been released.

Police said they are still investigating the case and possible charges may result.

Snellville police are still conducting several interviews to determine whether charges should be filed. In the meantime, their advice to gun owners is to keep their guns always secured. They said many of the lock boxes for guns are inexpensive.

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Over the past several months, several children have either been seriously injured or killed in Georgia after being around an unsecured gun with another child.

On Sunday night, another family was holding a vigil for a 6-month old shot and killed in a drive-by shooting last week. Grayson Fleming-Gray died in his car seat in the back of his mother’s car on Jan. 24. Two people have been taken into custody.

This is the fifth child injured in a shooting this year in metro Atlanta. Three children have been killed by guns this year.

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According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 4.6 million minors in the United States live in homes with at least one loaded and unsecured firearm. 70% of parents reported that their children could not access firearms in their household on their own, but over one-third of the children belonging to those households reported being able to access the firearm in less than five minutes.