A 44-year-old man who allegedly fled the scene and was later arrested could face charges
The 2-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself after being left alone in a car with an unsecured gun in Lansing, Mich., has died, police and prosecutors tell PEOPLE.
“The Lansing Police Department is saddened to report the 2-year-old has passed away from his injuries,” Jordan Gulkis, a spokeswoman for the Lansing Police Department, tells PEOPLE.
Ingham County Prosecutor John J. Dewane said in a statement Thursday night that he will review the case "for any and all criminal charges."
"No child should have access to a handgun, period," Dewane said. "However, due to the widespread proliferation of firearms, guns are all too readily available for children to encounter."
The accidental shooting occurred outside a Sunoco gas station in Lansing, Mich., just after 3 p.m. Tuesday, police said.
A 44-year-old male allegedly fled the scene but was later arrested in connection to the case, Gulkis previously told PEOPLE. (The man’s name will not be released until his arraignment, Gulkis said, and Scott Hughes, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office tells PEOPLE that no charges will be filed until at least the weekend.)
Firefighters rushed the toddler, whose name has still not been released due to his age, to a local hospital for treatment, but he succumbed to the gunshot wound Wednesday night.
More than half of U.S. gun owners do not safely store their firearms, according to a 2018 survey by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Under an upcoming Michigan gun safety law passed earlier this year, gun owners must keep firearms “unloaded and locked with a locking device or stored in a locked box or container if it is reasonably known that a minor is or is likely to be present on the premises.”
If they do not and a child access the gun, causing a death, the gun owner faces up to 15 years behind bars and/or a fine of $10,000.
However, that law does not go into effect until March 2024, the county prosecutor says, so it will not be applicable in this case. In the future, that law "will make a difference," Dewane said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the child’s family and friends in this tragedy, but of course thoughts and prayers are not enough," Dewane said. "We must take action, to find some measure of justice and prevent similar acts from taking more of our community's children."
Just days before the two-year-old shot himself, Paul Elam, the chief strategy officer for the Michigan Public Health Institute, published an op-ed in the Lansing State Journal arguing that “the cost of gun violence in Lansing is too high to ignore” and that taxpayer money should be focused more on preventive gun violence measures than for “what happens after gunshots are fired.”
Totaling the costs of “crime scene investigations, hospital bills, court costs and prison” Elam estimated that stopping “just one fatal shooting” could save at least $1.6 million in taxpayer dollars.
For more information on safe firearm storage and the most effective ways to protect children from unsecured firearms, visit BeSMARTforkids.org.
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