NC church member designated as armed guard leaves gun in toilet stall -- where 4-year-old finds it
Blond boy holding a gun (Shutterstock)

A North Carolina man was cited after leaving a loaded handgun in a church restroom, where a child found the weapon.

Claude Lee Haynes III is accused of leaving a loaded Equinox .380 pistol in a stall after Sunday services at Lifewalk Church in Holly Ridge, reported the Jacksonville Daily News.

The 70-year-old Haynes apparently had been asked by the church to carry a weapon to prevent against possible attacks, investigators said.

“It’s kind of a prevalent thing going on,” said John Maiorano, chief of Holly Ridge police.

The 4-year-old boy's father went into the bathroom stall and took the gun away from his son before he could fire the weapon, police said.

Haynes received a ticket for child endangerment.

“He understood the severity of it,” Maiorano said. “A 4-year-old is just nowhere old enough to be within reach of a gun.”