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An Arizona man faces child abuse charges after his 6-year-old daughter was accidentally shot during a lesson on firearm safety.
Eldon Mcinville, 26, was arrested on charges of child abuse and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the April 25 incident, which left the girl critically injured. Police believe Mcinville was attempting to teach his daughter how to properly use a firearm right before the shotgun he was using for instruction went off. Mcinville called 911 to report what happened.
According to a police report obtained by 12 News, a Phoenix, Arizona-based NBC affiliate, Mcinville was "recklessly manipulating" his weapon just before he "reportedly fell," triggering a gun blast that struck the child.
Mcinville originally reported that he had been cleaning the recently-purchased gun for the first time and was about to put the firearm away when he tripped. He told police that he had watched instructional videos on YouTube about how to best maintain the weapon and had been teaching the young girl about safety practices moments before, according to 12 News.
Mcinville added that the gun was half-cocked and loaded with birdshot. He believed the safety was on at the time.
Mcinville told police that while he didn't keep his other weapons secured in a safe, they were kept locked in his room. However, a witness who remains unnamed in reports countered Mcinville's testimony, saying the room was often unlocked and he could regularly be seen walking around the home with the guns. A loaded revolver and a loaded shotgun were found by police during the investigation.
Mcinville's daughter, who has not been identified in reports, was airlifted to a nearby hospital with life-threatening wounds and underwent emergency surgery. She will undergo several more surgeries during her recovery, police said according to 12 News.
She suffered injuries to her lower abdomen and a fractured pelvic bone from the incident. Police said her intestines were visible when she was rushed to a medical facility.
Police Sgt. John Roth commended the child on her bravery.
"[First responders] said she was the bravest, strongest girl they've ever seen. She was talking, she wasn't crying, she was asking questions as any 6-year-old would do and they airlifted her to a local Valley hospital in life-threatening condition," said Roth to AZFamily.com.
"Everybody needs to pay attention with guns and make sure there are no kids around when you're manipulating them in any way," Roth continued. "It's just a tragic lesson that many of us have heard. Guns just—they're mishandled for one reason or another and they have to strike something and tragically this little one was in the way."
Struggling to suppress his emotions during a court appearance on Friday, Mcinville attempted to explain his actions.
“I just want to help my family," Mcinville said, according to 12 News. "That’s all I want to do. I understand what’s going on. I understand … now, what’s going on.“
Mcinville has been forbidden from possessing any weapons, contacting his daughter, and returning to the scene of the accident. His cash bond has been set at $50,000.
Both the charges Mcinville faces carry mandatory prison sentences should he be convicted, according to Fox 10 of Phoenix, Arizona.
Arizona does not have any laws specifically pertaining to gun storage around children, according to Fox 10.
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