Merced Police: 5-year-old girl accidentally shot dead, after her brother finds unsecured guns

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MERCED, California. (KGPE) — A 5-year-old girl was shot dead by her brother in Merced Thursday afternoon, according to the Merced Police Department.

“This whole incident,” said Struble. “This whole tragedy could have been avoided.”

Police Cpt. Jay Struble said the siblings were watching tv in a bedroom at a home on the 1600 block of E. 26th St. when the boy found a bag with three guns. One of the guns was loaded.

“The male juvenile unfortunately pointed the gun at the 5-year-old and pulled the trigger,” said Struble.

Struble said the father, 44-year-old Rodney Mathews was home when it happened. The boy ran out the door, down the block, and hid in a car.

Mathews rushed the little girl to the hospital. Struble said once she was dropped off, Mathews led police on a chase for about 3 miles, and eventually pulled over.

“He immediately got out of the car and surrendered no issue,” said Struble. “His mindset was he was trying to get home and find the other child.”

Mathews’s bail was set at $800,000.

The boy was found and is with his mother. Mathews faces six felonies including child endangerment causing death and being a felon in possession of ammunition and a firearm.

Merced Superior Court Records show that back in 2012, Mathews was sentenced to three years in the state prison for felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. In that incident, he faced four felonies, a misdemeanor, and eight enhancements.

Struble said this tragedy should remind the community to keep guns locked up and away from children.

“Gun safety,” said Struble. “We know there are guns in a lot of homes. Take the time, put them in a safe or put trigger locks, or put a slide-lock on them.”

Neighbors did not want to comment on camera but one said she was so disturbed by the incident that she couldn’t sleep last night.

Child Protective Services will offer counseling to the little boy and the whole family to deal with the trauma.

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