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Falls police say boy may have shot himself with unsecured gun


Published: Thu, August 5, 2010 @ 12:08 a.m.

By ED RUNYAN

runyan@vindy.com

photo

A Newton Falls police officer stands guard Wednesday in front of the house on Trumbull Court in Newton Falls where a 4-year-old boy died from a gunshot wound. The boy died Tuesday, apparently after accidentally shooting himself.

NEWTON FALLS

Police say the gun that they believe a 4-year-old boy used to fatally shoot himself in the chest Tuesday afternoon was one of six unsecured guns in the parents’ bedroom.

The boy, one of four children of Michael J. and Amanda R. Stewart of Trumbull Court, was in the house without supervision at the time of the shooting, police said. The boy’s name has not been released by police or the Trumbull County Coroner’s office.

John Kuivila, Newton Falls police chief, said it appears that Michael J. Stewart was at work at the time of the shooting, and Amanda R. Stewart was outside “chasing the dog.”

Police on Wednesday continued to investigate the 5 p.m. shooting in the East River Gardens neighborhood in the southeastern part of the city. They were planning to serve a search warrant at the home Wednesday afternoon to collect additional evidence.

A Newton Falls police officer was stationed in the front yard of the house throughout the morning Wednesday to secure the scene, Kuivila said.

The Newton Falls Police Department contacted the Trumbull County Children Services Board after the shooting, Kuivila said, but the Stewarts’ three other children, age 6 months, 21/2 years and 6, are staying with relatives.

Kuivila said he didn’t know where Michael and Amanda Stewart are staying.

“The most important thing in all of this is that we have hundreds of gun locks here that we give away, and people should be diligent about keeping their weapons secured and out of the reach of children,” Kuivila said.

Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk performed an autopsy on the boy’s body, but the cause and manner of death are pending police investigation and further studies, his office said.

A woman, who gave her name only as Ashley, said she lives two houses away from the Stewart residence and said the Stewart family has lived on Trumbull Court about six months to a year.

The Stewarts are one of many families with children living on the street. The woman said she didn’t know the boy’s name, and didn’t consider anything about him or his family to be unusual.

“I never even seen them argue or anything,” she said of Michael and Amanda Stewart.

She added that the children never appeared to leave their own yard and seemed like they were “good kids, they listened.”

The woman said she is a “friend of a friend” of the Stewarts and had been inside the house.

Ashley said she’d never seen any unsecured guns in the house, only rifles on display high on the walls and other weapons locked in a wooden box.

Ashley said she had talked to the boy a time or two but hadn’t become close to him.

“It’s pretty sad,” she said.


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