BERKELEY, Missouri – Two families deal with tragedy. A seven-year-old boy was accidentally shot in Berkeley. Hours later, a five-year-old boy in Belleville suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the face.
As two communities are ravaged by the effects of gunfire, the seven-year-old’s father opens up about the loss of his son.
“I feel like he doesn’t deserve this. It should have just been me and not him,” said Deontrell Macon.
A little boy is dead and a father is mourning.
The child was playing with an unsecured gun in a truck parked outside the Mint Townhomes when he accidentally shot himself.
“A lot of police cars,” said Ajah Shurn, a resident of the complex.
Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital said it treated 28 children for gunshot wounds this year alone. Some of these, the same case as Macon describes, were simply tragic accidents.
“It was an accident,” Macon said.
Macon said he was sleeping upstairs when his son died. The seven-year-old’s grandfather, Macon’s father, had watched the child before the boy went outside and into the grandfather’s unlocked truck. Macon said his father’s gun was in the front seat.
“This is an issue that we don’t just see in relation to gun violence and accidental shootings,” said St. Louis County Attorney Wesley Bell. “We see that way too often. A significant proportion of the cases we see typically involve gun violence; There’s a percentage – probably around 15% – that are accidental shootings like this, and that’s too much.”
Meanwhile, across the river in Illinois, a five-year-old girl was shot dead less than a block from the Belleville Police Department. According to locals, crime scene tape was unrolled on the first block of South 88th Street just after 6:30 p.m.
“I heard screams and went outside … but I didn’t know what happened,” Tamara Caldwell said.
Her neighbor Vanessa Stellern said she often sees several children in the house.
“There are always three or four small children playing together in the front yard,” said Stellern.
Belleville Police Deputy Chief Mark Heffernan said the child was taken to Memorial Hospital but could not be saved.
The shooting is still under investigation, Heffernan said.