Four-year-old playing with gun shoots two-year-old cousin

A boy checks out a gun as he accompanies his parents to a gun show in the US state of Virginia on Nov 18, 2016.
A boy checks out a gun as he accompanies his parents to a gun show in the US state of Virginia on Nov 18, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

(WASHINGTON POST) - When authorities responded to a Philadelphia home on Thursday afternoon (Nov 24), they discovered a young child who had been shot, according to police.

The victim was just a toddler, police say.

And the person who investigators say pulled the trigger wasn't much older.

Authorities say the two-year-old boy was shot by his four-year-old cousin, who was apparently playing with the gun before it discharged, according to reports.

"The mother was preparing Thanksgiving dinner when the two kids were playing with the gun," chief inspector Scott Small told reporters, according to the Philadelphia Media Network.

Rachel Santiago and Omar Laboy-Vega are now facing criminal charges in connection with the incident, the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement.

Local outlets reported that Santiago and Laboy-Vega, both 34, are the two-year-old's mother and father, though police did not respond to a message from The Washington Post seeking to confirm that on Friday evening.

The shooting happened about 4.20pm on Thursday, according to police.

Officers who arrived at the scene discovered that the two-year-old had gunshot wounds to his chest and finger.

"Preliminary investigation reveals that the complainant was shot by his four-year-old cousin," police said in the statement, which noted that the investigation was still ongoing.

The injured boy was rushed to a hospital, then transferred to another medical facility.

He was listed in critical but stable condition, police said.

"Our main concern, of course, is for the two-year-old," Small told a CBS affiliate, "but also we want to know how this four-year-old was able to get ahold of this gun that was loaded."

Two handguns were collected from the home where the shooting occurred.

Small told the CBS affiliate that he did not think the four-year-old "realises what happened."