By Linda Looney-Bond
A 3-year-old Forest Park boy was in critical condition Monday, after police say the toddler shot himself in the stomach late Sunday night while his mother apparently slept.
Around 11:15 p.m., Clayton County Police responded to a call at the Brentwood Manor Apartments, located at 5738 Old Dixie Road, according to a police report.
When police arrived, the child's mother, Marquita Taylor, was holding the boy in a blanket and applying pressure to the gunshot wound, the report states.
Taylor told police she awoke after hearing a gunshot and saw her son in the hallway with a bloody shirt, according to the report.
She told police she panicked and placed the 9 mm semi-automatic pistol on a baker's rack in the dining room, then called 911, the report states.
Another woman in the apartment, Rachel Foster, told police that she awoke to hear Taylor yelling, and after Taylor told her to grab the gun and put it up, she took the gun from the rack and placed it in a plastic bin full of clothes in a bedroom closet, according to the police report.
Police said Taylor and Foster told them the gun had been stored on a shelf in the apartment when the boy apparently found it.
"According to them, the gun was on the shelf and the child had climbed up to get it," Clayton County Police Lt. Rebecca Brown said.
The boy was transported to Southern Regional Medical Center and later to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, according to the police report.
"No charges are pending, and right now they're treating it as an accidental, self-inflicted [shooting]," said Brown.
Brown advised that parents should take extra care to keep guns out of the hands of children, and store them in a gun case.
"Parents should go to your local store and spend 12 to 15 dollars and put your weapon in it [a case] and lock it up, because children do wake up in the middle of the night, and they do get into things," she said.
"They should educate them that it's not a toy. It is real," Brown said.