Toddler shot in St. Paul as kids play with handgun - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Toddler shot in St. Paul as kids play with handgun

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

St. Paul police are investigating after a 2-year-old boy was shot on Thursday inside a home on the 1300 block of Beech Street.

Yang Her, the uncle of the boy who was shot, confirmed with FOX 9 News that his nephew, Jacob Xiong, is at Gillette Children's Hospital, where he is listed in serious but stable condition.

Officials say Xiong was shot in the head while his 16-year-old sister was babysitting him and his two brothers, along with one other boy in the family, while the parents were at work. The ages of the other three boys are 7, 9 and 10. 

Investigators told FOX 9 News one of the boys found a handgun in the home and was playing with it when the toddler was shot. 

"I was outside in my backyard. I thought something hit the house," recalled neighbor Brian Mealey. "It sounded like someone hit a hard ball and smacked it against the wall. I looked around the house, didn't see anything there and just didn't pay any mind."

Police found the gun inside the house, but they don't know who it belonged to or if it was locked up. Investigators removed at least two other weapons from the home, along with several pieces of evidence.

"I'm shocked, just hoping for the best for everyone in the house and my family members," Her told FOX 9 News. "I want them to be cautious of whatever is around them -- not just for them, but for everyone in the neighborhood, to be cautious of weapons."

Police are treating the case as an accidental shooting and do not expect to file charges in the case.

"Children will be snoops," warned Sgt. Paul Paulos, of the St. Paul Police Department. "They like to explore; they like to discover... They discovered something they found fascinating or surprising, and it ended in a tragic situation."

Police say it is important for anyone who has guns inside a home to follow these simple steps to keep kids safe:

  1. Take ammunition out of the gun and store it in a separate place, away from the weapon
  2. Lock the weapon and keep it out of reach
  3. Speak with children about gun safety and teach them to report one to an adult if they see one.

Family members and friends gathered to say a traditional Hmong prayer for the boy on Thursday night.

"Really sad -- he still has a future and I don't know what is going to happen to him," said Mai Xiong.

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