A child who was thought to be no older than 8-years-old shot a SWAT officer with his service weapon at a literacy fair in California last week while he was showing off tactical equipment to kids.
Lodi Police Chief Mark Helms told KMAX that the incident took place at the “2013 Literacy Fair: Little Buckaroos Reading Roundup” on Aug. 24.
Helms said that SWAT Officer Robert Rench was in a SWAT vehicle demonstrating equipment to children when a boy, between 6 and 8 years old, walked up behind him and fired his holstered Glock .40 caliber service weapon into his leg.
“According to the witnesses, [the child] was able to walk up to the officer, and was able to manipulate his handgun while it was in the holster, causing it discharge,” Lodi Police Lt. Sierra Brucia explained to KXTV. “And then the round actually fired down the officer’s leg and into the pavement.”
Brucia said that an internal investigation was focusing on Rench’s thigh holster, which may have made it easier for the child to access the weapon.
“We’ve already been in contact with the manufacturer of the holster to see if there’s any design changes since the time that we purchased those holsters,” she noted. “And obviously new products come out over time and stuff like that. And that will all be part of the review. Again, like I said, our biggest focus is how this occurred in the first place and how to prevent it from occurring in the future.”
Police were also searching for the identity of the boy, who ran from the scene after the gun discharged.
“This should have never happened, especially in an environment where children were present,” Chief Helms explained. “As peace officers, we have a responsibility to the public to ensure our weapons and equipment are properly safeguarded. We’re fortunate this event didn’t result in a tragedy.”
Watch the video below from KXTV, broadcast Sept. 2, 2013.
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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