A Waxhaw police officer was charged Friday with a misdemeanor after his 2-year-old son accidentally shot his mother with his father’s off-duty gun.
The State Bureau of Investigation charged Officer Jeremy Ferguson with failing to store a firearm to protect a minor, a Class 1 misdemeanor, said Brandon Blackman, assistant special agent in charge of the SBI’s Harrisburg office. The office covers the Charlotte region.
The SBI charged Ferguson after discussing the case with the Union County District Attorney’s Office, Blackman said. Ferguson was served with a criminal summons.
The state’s storage of firearms to protect minors statute says anyone who leaves a firearm where a child can access and discharge it can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. Such misdemeanors are typically punishable by a fine or community service, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Underwood said.
The incident happened at the officer’s home on Bigham Road at about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.
The toddler unzipped a bag, found the gun and fired a shot, hitting his 30-year-old mother in the back, Underwood told Observer news partner WBTV. She has since been released from a hospital and is expected to be OK.
Ferguson was placed on administrative leave with pay while the department conducts an internal investigation, Waxhaw Police Chief Mike Eiss told WBTV.
“It only takes a second or two for a child to be able to gain access to a gun if it’s accessible,” Underwood told WBTV. “In this case, it was on the child’s level on the floor. It’s a reminder that children are smarter sometimes than we give them credit for being.”