MERCER, Pa. - A 7-year-old boy died Saturday when he was shot in the chest by his father's gun.
According to police, Joseph Loughrey, 44, of Sharpsville, Pa., and his son, Craig Allen Loughrey, 7, of Fredonia, Pa., had returned to their vehicle at Twigs Reloading Den, 8388 Sharon Mercer Road, about 11 a.m. Saturday, when a 9 mm handgun that was in the car went off, striking the child in the chest.
The boy died at the scene.
One of the store owners, Leonard Mahoney, said the boy was shot in the parking lot, but that he didn't see what happened.
"As his dad got in the vehicle, the 9 mm handgun was discharged. It struck the child in the chest," said Lt. Eric Hermick, Pennsylvania State Police.
"They had both exited the store together, and dad was loading the weapons back in his vehicle. We do have clear video of that part of the incident."
Investigators said Loughrey told them he didn't realize there was a bullet still in the chamber.
"This happens all too often where people think the gun was empty," Hermick said.
Loughrey had been trying to sell back guns at the hunting and camping store. When he returned to his vehicle, he placed a 9 mm gun on the console. The gun did not have a loaded magazine; however, there was a bullet in the chamber. The gun accidentally went off, striking the boy in the chest, police said.
The child was seated in a booster seat inside the vehicle.
Fellow store owner Gladys Mahoney said she heard the shot inside the store.
"I heard a popping, but I was standing right here, so I didn't realize what it was," she said. "Unfortunately, most men will leave one in the chamber. Instead of checking, they'll pull the magazine out, and they will not check the chamber. And it's just an unfortunate incident."
Loughrey was questioned by state police, who said he was cooperative and distraught. The shooting is being investigated as an accident, although Loughrey could face charges, including manslaughter and negligence, Hermick told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"I know that little kid was everything to him," Mark McLaughlin of Fredonia, a friend and co-worker of Loughrey's at Superior Well Services in Fredonia, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Messages left for the coroner's office and at a listing in Loughrey's name were not immediately returned.
Emergency crews worked to revive the child, but were not successful.
"He is very visibly shaken," Hermick said. "He's traumatized, beside himself and (it's) a very tragic incident that occurred."
Tribune Chronicle newspartner WYTV 33 News contributed to this report.