9-year-old in critical condition after accidental shooting in home

DECATUR, Ohio - A 9-year-old was shot in the head in his Brown County home on Monday afternoon.

The shooting was the result of an accidental discharge of a handgun, Brown County Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger reported in a press release.

The child, Sebastian Swartz of Decatur, found the handgun unsecured in his parents' bedroom while his father, Chris Swartz, was at work and his mother, Shanna, was in the living room of their house located at 10198 State Route 125, Wenniger said.

Chris Swartz is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and was injured in that conflict.

When Sebastian Swartz's sister, whose name and age have not yet been released, found Sebastian playing with the gun, a struggle ensued and the gun was discharged, Wenninger added.

At last check, Swartz was in critical condition after being transported to Cincinnati Children's Hospital where he underwent surgery, according to the sheriff's office.

Wenninger said in his 25 years as a law enforcement officer he's only seen seven or eight cases where a child was accidently shot while playing with a gun.

He added such incidents are totally preventable if gun owners take precautions, such as picking up gun locks that are usually given out for free by most police departments, including the Brown County Sheriff's Office.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also gives the following recommendations for those who own guns and have children in their home:

  • Always keep the gun unloaded and locked up.   
  • Lock and store the bullets in a separate place.   
  • Make sure to hide the keys to the locked boxes.
The AAP offers more advice and tools at their site, healthychildren.org.

Evidence collected from the Swartz home will be turned over to the county prosecutor's office to determine whether or not a charge such as child endangerment will be filed against the family, Wenninger said.

9 On Your Side will update this story when more information becomes available.

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