(KMOV) – An 11-year-old boy died after he was shot in the head by a 6-year old family friend, Belleville Police said Wednesday.
The incident happened at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday on the first block of north 98th Street.
Neighbor Tammy Shaffer heard a woman shouting from the home.
"I couldn't understand anything except coming and 'help.' That's when I suggested to my husband that we call police and have them do a drive-by," she said.
Shaffer said when she arrived downstairs, police had already arrived in the neighborhood. An ambulance transported Leonard Smith, 11, of East St .Louis, to Belleville Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Believe Police Detective Mark Heffernan said Smith’s family was hosting a family barbeque. When the shot was fired, the adults were downstairs and the children were upstairs.
Heffernan said the children managed to locate a handgun. The handgun was not in a gun safe or a secure area, he said.
"The children had located the gun, were presumably playing with the gun, and unfortunately it had tragic results," Heffernan said. "Adults have the responsibility if they're going to be a gun owner, to take the proper steps to make sure the weapon is secure and not accessible to children. Unfortunately, that didn't happen here, and it had tragic results," he said.
Belleville Police could not say what the relationship was between the two boys, but said the two are were not family members. The case will be forwarded to the St. Clair County State's Attorney for possible charges.