Uncle charged after 3-year-old shot self in head, police say - KMOV.com

Uncle charged after 3-year-old shot self in head, police say

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John A. Pitts, 24, is charged with first degree child endangerment after a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head. John A. Pitts, 24, is charged with first degree child endangerment after a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head.
According to police, the child sustained a gunshot wound to the head in the 1200 block of Walton around 9:15 a.m. According to police, the child sustained a gunshot wound to the head in the 1200 block of Walton around 9:15 a.m.
According to police, the child sustained a gunshot wound to the head in the 1200 block of Walton around 9:15 a.m. According to police, the child sustained a gunshot wound to the head in the 1200 block of Walton around 9:15 a.m.
According to police, the child sustained a gunshot wound to the head in the 1200 block of Walton around 9:15 a.m. According to police, the child sustained a gunshot wound to the head in the 1200 block of Walton around 9:15 a.m.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

First degree child endangerment charges were filed against 24-year-old John A. Pitts after his 3-year-old nephew sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday morning, police said.  

According to police, the child found a loaded gun in Pitts' bedroom and accidentally shot himself in the head in the 1200 block of Walton around 9:15 a.m.

In a probable cause statement, an officer stated Pitts' told him he placed the Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun underneath his pillow before going to sleep the night before and left the loaded gun there when he got up on Tuesday morning. The boy was playing in Pitts' bedroom with the family dog before the accidental shooting, the statement said.

"I'm just torn up. It's even hard for me to say," said Paula Johnson, a neighbor.

Neighbors in the family's Fountain Park neighborhood said the toddler is known for playing in the pool and greeting people walking in the neighborhood.

"I'm at a loss for words. I was right there to see if they needed anything and I just began praying. That's all I could do, to let them know I was there, in support," Johnson said.

After sustaining the gunshot wound, the child was taken into surgery and his condition was listed as critical and unstable, police said. The next 72 hours are critical for the child’s recovery, according to police.

Investigators said they believe the shooting was just a terrible accident after the semi-automatic handgun with no safety feature was left within the boy's reach in Pitts' bedroom. The child does live at the home where the gunshot wound was sustained. 

"We are glad it was not an intentional act that somebody went out and shot at other people and a three-year-old was struck by that gunfire, but still we have a three-year-old who was shot, so it's very difficult for the detectives to go into because many of them have children of their own," said Captain Michael Sack of St. Louis police.

Doctors said the boy is still in critical condition, but his condition has been upgraded from unstable to stable.

Police said family members of the child were cooperating with the investigation and neighbors described the boy's family as extremely attentive. 

"If ever he was outside, his grandfather was out there or his mother was out there," said Johnson.

Police are working to determine who the gun owner is and whether it was legally purchased. Officials said the family is cooperating with the investigation.

In addition to the .40 caliber handgun used in the incident, three other loaded guns were seized from the home and Pitts was taken into custody.

Authorities said Pitts is the uncle of the injured child. Pitts also resides in the 1200 block of Walton, according to the incident report.

The incident is being investigated by child abuse and homicide units.

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