Boy, 7, dies after accidentally shooting himself, police say

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 5:21 AM CDT
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CLEVELAND (WOIO/Gray News) - Friends and family of a Cleveland first grader are in mourning after police say he died when he accidentally shot himself in the head.

Police say 7-year-old Demetrius Dunlap was shot around 2 p.m. Saturday while sitting on the couch in a home on Cleveland’s West Side. His family took him to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police say Demetrius got a hold of a gun and accidentally shot himself. They came across the gun involved on scene, WOIO reports.

“It looks like the juvenile was sitting on the couch. The gun is sitting on the couch. Somebody had dropped the mag out of it already,” said a first responder in a call to dispatch.

Police say the 7-year-old’s life was cut short because of a loaded gun in his reach, which they say could have been prevented. Cases like this one are why Cleveland Police Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia says it’s important that people lock up their guns.

“It does, unfortunately, drive home the need to secure firearms. We can’t stress that enough that, if you’re going to have firearms, that you take some training and purchase something to keep those firearms out of the reach of children,” she said.

Demetrius was a first grade student at Luiz Munoz Marin School. His death has been not only shocking to his loved ones but students and staff.

A statement sent from the school’s principal, Sam Roman, to families read in part:

“I know that you share our deep concern and sympathy for the family of Demetrius Dunlap. On behalf of our entire school community, we have reached out to them to offer comfort and support, as they cope with the heartbreaking loss of someone so dear to them and to us.”

Roman also said the school will have grief counselors on site all week.

“As we struggle to comprehend this heartbreaking loss to our school community, we are committed to helping students who will understandably be saddened or confused by the sudden death of one of their peers,” he said.

Police are still investigating the incident. Once finished, they will send the information to the prosecutor’s office, who will determine if the adults in the home at the time will be charged.