The 3-year-old son of a Baltimore County policeman was reported in critical but stable condition at a city hospital today after being shot in the chest while he and his 6-year-old brother toyed with the father's off-duty revolver.
The victim, Chris Gillespie, was flown to the pediatric intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital by a State Police Med-Evac helicopter yesterday, shortly after being shot at his home in the 1300 block of Harford Square Drive in Edgewood.
His father, Officer Stephen Gillespie, is assigned to the North Point District in Baltimore County.
A spokesman for the Harford County sheriff said Chris was shot in the right side of his chest with his father's five-shot Smith & Wesson snub-nosed revolver. The weapon is not his service revolver but is used in the officer's off-duty job, the spokesman said.
The spokesman, Cpl. DeWayne Curry, said the loaded gun had been left inside on a pouch on a living room table after the officer returned home from his secondary job as a security officer at a McDonald's restaurant in Harford County.
E. Jay Miller, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police, said Officer Gillespie's commanding officer, Capt. James Scannell, has granted the officer a few days off.
Miller said no action has been taken against Gillespie by either the county police or the sheriff's office, but the incident remains under investigation.
However, Miller said there would be a command-level review of the incident to determine if any breach of police department policy had occurred in the storing of a deadly weapon.
Miller said Gillespie has been on the force for three years and like every police officer has been trained and retrained in the proper storing of handguns and their safe handling.
"The lesson to be learned here,"Miller said, "is that no matter how careful people are or how well trained they are in the handling of firearms, accidents will happen."
Curry said Gillespie arrived home around 1 a.m. yesterday from his job at McDonald's and, after placing the gun on the living room table, sat down in a chair and fell asleep.
Waking up a short time later, Gillespie went upstairs to his bed
room, leaving the gun on the living room table.
About 8:40 a.m., Gillespie's two sons, Jason, 6, a student at Magnolia Elementary School, and Chris, found the gun in the living room, Curry said.
It was not known where the parents were at the time, but each was believed to be home.
Curry said both boys were handling the weapon when the older boytried to retrieve it from Chris.
While the two boys toyed with the gun, it went off.
Curry said the bullet lodged in a living room sofa after striking Chris.
A medic unit from the Joppa-Magnolia Fire Department gave first aid to the wounded child on the living room floor. Moments later, he was flown to the hospital.