3-year-old shoots, kills himself at home near DeLand, deputies say

Shooting happened in 2400 block of Nectarine Road

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A 3-year-old boy shot and killed himself with a handgun Wednesday at a home near DeLand, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said the shooting happened at 6:22 p.m. at a home in the 2400 block of Nectarine Road in Daytona Park Estates.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood held a news conference Thursday and said the boy got ahold of the firearm in a bedroom nightstand while home with his two other siblings, a 16-year-old and 7-year-old. He said the parents left to go shop for food at Publix and left the 16-year-old in charge.

“We all said we have never seen anything like this. That’s why I said we shouldn’t be standing here ... It’s heartbreaking to sit there and listen to that 911 call and you’re the sister who’s calling in,” he said. “I mean, we were all 16 once, to watch your siblings, your younger ones, while your parents around to the store.”

The sheriff said the handgun, a Canik 9mm, was inside a drawer and the home had a safe, but it was not working. Chitwood said it is part of the investigation to determine how long it has been inoperable.

“There is a message here to all parents that own guns, and that message is if you have little ones, you have teenagers, you got to lock them (guns) up, man,” he said. “... I’m not gonna sound sexist here when I say this, but boys have a propensity to be fascinated with firearms. You know, I was a son of a cop and I was fascinated with my father’s guns.”

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Chitwood said the shooting is under investigation and any findings will be submitted to the State Attorney’s Office, though any possible charges are “the least of my concern.”

“It’s not like they killed this kid. I mean, this was a horrible, horrible, horrible act of circumstances. So like we do with anything else, you know, the state attorney is on board with us, has been on board with us since the minute we notified them,” the sheriff said. “There’ll be an investigation, which is being done. The state attorney will look at the facts and circumstances of that fatality circumstance and then they’ll make a determination as to are they going to charge.”

He said the sheriff’s office is looking into the legality of releasing the 911 call made by the 16-year-old sibling.

“I would like them to listen to that 911 call. I would like to listen, have them hear the 16-year-old say, ‘My brother shot himself and he’s not breathing,’” Chitwood said. “And I think if you heard that, you would run out right now and buy a gun safe.”

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About the Authors:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.