Family members are still struggling to explain to their 7-year-old that his older brother Jermon will never be coming back home.
It was Saturday afternoon when police said three brothers were on the second floor of their St. Louis home as the adults worked downstairs, reported the St. Louis Dispatch. Suddenly, a call came in to police: shots fired.
They rushed to the house to find 7-year-old Jermon Perry lying semi-conscious with a gunshot wound to the head, KDSK reported. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but died several hours later.
Erica Jones, a close friend who is acting as a spokesperson for the family, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jermon’s younger brother had found the gun in their parents’ bedroom while looking for candy. “[The mom] normally hides candy from them so they don’t go in there and eat it all,” Jones told the paper.
She told KSDK the younger boy thought the gun was a toy. “We're not good. I can’t say that this is something that any parent would want to endure,” Jones told the station. “It’s not easy especially when you got to tell a child that, the gun was not a toy.”
The gun, which was holstered and stored inside a dresser drawer, belongs to Jermon’s father, who has a concealed carry permit, Jones told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.“He never thought the kids would get to the gun,” she told the paper.
“This is heartbreaking, this is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine how this mother feels you know, his sisters or his brothers,” neighbor Louis Spears told KMOV.
Jones told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the surviving brothers are still having trouble processing the fact that Jermon is gone.
“They are asking, ‘Where is he at’?” she told the paper. “They are asking if ‘Mon Mon’ is coming home from the hospital today. They are not understanding that he is not coming home.”
No charges have been filed in the case, according to KTRS.
More than 1,000 children are treated in the U.S. each year for accidental gunshot injuries, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Pediatrics. Another 4,500 also receive treatment for assaults, suicides, homicides and other shooting-related causes, and about 1,300 children die from those injures, the study found.
A 2016 report from USA Today and the Associated Press found that children die from accidental shootings at a pace of about one every other day, much higher than official government counts, which have historically been meager and underfunded.
The non-partisan Gun Violence Archive, which tracks the number of shootings and deaths throughout the country, has counted nearly 800 children killed or injured by gunfire so far in 2018.