An investigation is underway after a 7-year-old boy died after being shot in the head in south St. Louis Saturday.
Around 2:30 p.m., Officers responded to the 3100 block of California Ave for a report of shots fired. When they arrived, officers located the boy with a gunshot wound to the head.
The child was transported to a local area hospital in critical condition. He was pronounced dead just past 10 p.m., police said.
The child's mother's godsister told News 4 the boy, later identified as Jermon Perry, and his two brothers were inside the home when one of the siblings opened a drawer inside a closet looking for candy. Instead, he found his father's gun.
"They were playing with it and the gun went off striking Jermon in the head while he sat and played a video game," said Erica Jones, a friend of the family who spoke on the family's behalf.
According to police, the kids were upstairs while the parents were downstairs in the home at the time of the shooting.
Police said they aren't pursuing any criminal charges at this time.
"This is heartbreaking, this is heartbreaking I can't imagine how this mother feels you know, his sisters or his brothers," said neighbor Louis Spears.
The Homicide Division and the Child Abuse Division responded and are handling the investigation as a suspicious sudden death.
On Monday, staff at Barretts Elementary, where Perry was a first grader, took time to help explain the situation to his classmates and colleagues.
"Death is still something that some of them struggle to understand," said Dr. Kelli Moreton, principal at the school, "but we have tried to explain it to them very factual, open, responsibly."
Dr. Moreton says all of the teachers had their students sit in a circle for a time of reflection and answer any questions.
She says they will consider partnering with an outside resource to begin providing gun safety classes, but right now their focus is on providing support to faculty and students.
Jones says Perry's parents sat his siblings down to try to explain what happened as the children still think their brother is coming back home.
"(The parents) sat the boys down and talked with them to get them understand that he’s up there with their granny and it's not your fault," she said, adding, "they just want their brother back."
Jones set up a GoFundMe page to help the family financially as Jermon's mom also faces a battle with cancer.
"Her main focus is she's there for her children," she said.
She hopes people won't be so quick to judge, and offers a message to all families.
"We're just asking the community to just to open your eyes because it could happen to you," she said.
She also offers a message to gun owners.
"Get a lock," she said, "get a safe."
The family is holding a candlelight vigil in Jermon's honor on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. near the family's home along the 3100 block of California Avenue.
Anyone with information is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Editor's note: City officials initially told News 4 that the child had died at 3 p.m. but family members confirmed the child was still alive at a local hospital around 4:15 p.m. Police also initially reported the child was 7 years old, then reported he was 6, and are now back to reporting he was 7.
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