A California 4-year-old who is recovering after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a gun he found underneath a pillow is the fifth person in his family to become a victim of gun violence -- and the first to survive being shot.
Na’vaun Price Jackson, of Oakland, was with his mother at her estranged boyfriend’s home March 27 when he found the loaded gun under the man’s pillow. The man, Terrence Wilson, was legally barred from owning a gun because of his criminal history but told investigators he bought the weapon on the street about two weeks before the shooting, KRON in San Francisco reported.
Wilson told police he sleeps with the gun under his pillow and that he forgot to put the gun in a safer spot when he awoke that morning to take his children to school. The gun was unlocked, despite Wilson possessing a gun lock.
“Wilson was familiar with trigger locks for firearms, but did not use them on this firearm as he had recently lost the keys to the device,” a court document obtained by KRON said.
Wilson was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, first-degree criminal firearm storage and child abuse, according to KTVU in Oakland.
“It was real irresponsible,” Na’vaun’s grandfather, Ramon Price, told CNN. “And unfortunately, it was my grandson who got to pay the ultimate price.”
Na’vaun spent the first weeks after the shooting comatose in the intensive care unit. His mother, Brijjana Price, told KTVU Thursday that her son has since awakened and been moved out of the ICU.
In video posted on social media last week by his family, the boy did not speak, but was able to sip through a straw.
The bandages around his head and between his eyes -- where the bullet entered his skull -- were removed in some of the images. Additional video shows him smiling as he is being tickled and his grandfather wrote on Facebook April 3 that the toddler was moving his arms and legs, yawning and coughing.
“Everything the doctor’s saying, God says different,” Brijjana Price told KTVU. “He’s breathing on his own, he’s doing something different every day.”
The relieved mother said her son has even rolled his eyes at the nurses caring for him.
Doctors initially believed Na’vaun would suffer brain death or, if he lived, never walk again. They continue to tell the family he will be left with irreversible brain damage.
Na’vaun’s shooting is far from the first time the Price family has suffered the devastating effects of gun violence. His father, Nathan Jackson, has lost two brothers and a sister in shootings.
Nario Jackson, 18, was gunned down in a West Oakland double homicide in 2010, CNN reported. According to The Mercury News, his killer, who was just 17 at the time of the slaying, was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison.
Another Jackson brother, 16-year-old Najon Jackson, was shot to death outside his grandmother’s house less than nine months later, in July 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. It was not clear Tuesday if anyone had ever been charged in Najon’s slaying.
Last July, Na’vaun’s paternal aunt, Ellesse McFee, 21, was shot and killed as she sat in a car in East Oakland, CNN reported.
Brijjanna Price has also lost a brother to gun violence. Lamont Price, 17, was killed in 2012, leaving behind a 5-month-old daughter, the Chronicle reported.
Ramon Price, a pastor and funeral home employee, had seen his share of children who had been shot to death, even before his son died seven years ago. He said it’s “what happens when you live in Oakland,” CNN reported.
“Families are being shattered,” Ramon Price said. “There’s more people carrying guns than books.”
As he watches his young grandson recover from yet another bullet fired in Oakland, he urged people to become more familiar with gun laws.
“We need to have more preventive measures, (people should know) how to properly store guns and keep guns and the importance of having a gun," Price told the network. "Guns are supposed to be used for protection and if you think you need a loaded gun in your house, then there's something wrong.”
Land called gun violence an epidemic in the Oakland community, which nonetheless has seen a dramatic decrease in gun-related incidents over the past several years. According to the city, there were 277 nonfatal shootings and 63 fatal shootings in 2017, down from 617 nonfatal shootings and 93 fatal shootings in 2011.
“Whether it’s a police officer’s gun or a community member’s gun or, in this case, an accidental shooting, a bullet does the same type of irreparable damage, not just to the body, but to our psyches,” Land told CNN.