Police: Griffin boy, 12, fatally shot after sibling finds gun in woods

Police said they are waiting to talk to witnesses before releasing additional details of the case.

A 12-year-old boy was killed Saturday after his 5-year-old brother found a gun abandoned in a wooded area of Spalding County, authorities said.

The boy fired the weapon thinking it was a toy, he and his 7-year-old sibling told investigators during a forensic interview. The 12-year-old was fatally shot in the chest.

Griffin police suspect the weapon was left in the woods by a group running from a traffic stop hours before, a police spokesman said in a news release. Investigators have not made a final determination on the circumstances surrounding the shooting and have not identified any suspects.

“The Griffin Police Department continues to investigate this case and all information has not been obtained, but the facts and circumstances discovered lead to a strong hypothesis, substantiated by evidence, that this incident is a tragic accident,” Lt. Daniel Jett said in the release.

“We will diligently pursue and charge any other parties responsible for the actions leading up to the apparent abandonment of this weapon allowing for access by these innocent children,” he said.

The first officers were called to the shooting scene in the 600 block of Hammock Street about 7:40 p.m. Saturday. They attempted first aid on the child before medics arrived to take him to Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital, where he died.

His name has not been released.

Jett said investigators sifted through “several rumors and witness accounts” to arrive at their preliminary conclusions.

Early in the investigation, they learned Griffin uniform patrol officers tried to stop a vehicle in the area about two hours before the shooting, but the suspects ran away, he said. The officers lost sight of them behind some houses.

They searched the area and found a bag of suspected MDMA, Jett said. The bag was turned in as evidence.

“A weapon was not found at that time,” Jett said in the release. “(Uniform patrol division) officers later made contact with the suspected driver of the fleeing vehicle, who provided them with information relative to the investigation.”

According to investigators, the gun was found in the same area as the suspected drugs. The weapon and the 12-year-old’s clothing were collected and will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab to look for fingerprints or other residue that may identify its owner.

“We will leave no stone unturned as we search for the individuals responsible for the abandonment of this weapon,” police chief Mike Yates said in a statement.

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