A Florida man has been accused of drunkenly shooting a child who had been playing with Nerf guns, with a real firearm, sending the child to the hospital.
Anthony Knuth is now facing charges of neglect of a child with great bodily harm and using a firearm while under the influence after witnesses said Knuth — who had reportedly been drinking beer and whiskey throughout the night — told a group of children that he had a real gun with real bullets just before the shot rang out, Fox 35 Orlando reports.
The victim’s mother told Sanford police that she had gone to her friend’s home on Saturday night for a visit, bringing along her children.
The children were playing with Nerf guns with her friend’s kid in the living room of the Sanford home, when the mother said she left the room for a few minutes.
Knuth, who was her friend’s brother, was also in the living room at the time, local station WESH reports.
The mother told detectives that she heard a loud pop and ran back into the room to find that her 7-year-old child had been shot just below the knee and was bleeding.
When she asked the other children in the room what had happened, they allegedly told her that “Anthony shot him,” according to a police report obtained by the outlet.
A child witness also reported that while the group was playing with the Nerf guns, Knuth claimed to have a real gun. He allegedly told the children that he was going to put a real bullet in it.
After the shot was fired, Knuth allegedly made comments that he was going to go to jail because he had shot a child and went to his room, according to WESH.
Knuth later told police that he had been taking shots of Southern Comfort and drinking beer that night and did not remember shooting anyone, according to local station WKMG. He believed if he had fired the weapon, it had likely been an accident.
The 7-year-old child was shot just below the left kneecap and was taken to the hospital where the child will undergo surgery to remove bullet fragments from what appeared to be a .22 caliber gun, WESH reports.
Knuth’s sister Heidi Netty told WESH that her brother had struggled with alcoholism before his arrest. The problem had been exacerbated after their sister died in August, she said.
“It’s not an excuse and I won’t make excuses, but there comes a time when justice is served, and he needs rehab and mental help,” she said. “It’s not what it looks like on paper, so we’re going to try to get him help.”
Knuth’s bond has been set at $15,000.
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