Girl shot during target practice in Titusville area, officials say

9-year-old in critical condition after sibling shot her by accident, police say

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – A 9-year-old girl is in critical condition after she was shot by her sibling while they were left unattended with loaded firearms, officials said.

Dustin Matthew Adkins, 34, took the 9-year-old girl and three other children to go hunting Saturday in the wooded area off Challenger Memorial Parkway in Titusville, according to an arrest report.

Adkins, a convicted felon, allowed the children to use two rifles and two handguns for target practice, the report said.

The girl was shot when Adkins left the group unattended to go check a hog trap he had set earlier, according to the report.

“(She was) shot by an older sibling accidentally during target practice out in the woods," Deputy Chief Todd Hutchinson said. “There were adults present. There’s a lot of investigating that needs to take place.”

Adkins told investigators he did not see the shooting but heard the gunshot, which was followed by a lot of screaming.

Officers said instead of calling 911, the girl was driven to Parish Medical Center in Titusville by her family.

“Definitely an unusual case because you have a juvenile that was shot and instead of notifying the police and calling 911, they immediately went to the hospital,” Hutchinson said.

Prior to driving the girl to the hospital, deputies said Adkins hid the firearms because he knew that he was a convicted felon and didn’t want to get into any more trouble.

According to the report, the 9-year-old was shot through the back, with the bullet traveling into her hip area.

Titusville police said Monday the girl was in critical but stable condition at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

People who live nearby the shooting site told News 6 the area is a popular spot for off-roading and target practice.

Officers spent much of Saturday afternoon searching for the weapon used by the older sibling as they try to sort out how the shooting unfolded.

The firearms were found hidden behind some brush and tires, according to the arrest report. Investigators said the firearms were still loaded with 51 rounds between the four firearms.

Adkins was arrested on charges of aggravated child neglect with great bodily harm, violation of felony probation, possession of a firearm by convicted felon and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, police said.

“It is outrageous that this adult provided firearms and ammunition to these young children,” Hutchinson said. “Especially given his past arrest and conviction."

Adkins is on probation for manslaughter involving the 2011 shooting death of a child, authorities said. Adkins served two years in prison for the shooting.

Adkins made his first appearance in front of a judge Sunday and was denied bond.

About the Author:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.