4-year-old killed after 3-year-old gained access to gun in Harris County: deputies

A three-year-old girl unintentionally shot and killed her four-year-old sister after gaining access to a firearm inside a Harris County apartment, the sheriff’s office says.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says the two toddlers were inside an apartment at 9955 Bammel North Houston Road with five adults on Sunday evening when the shooting occurred.

MORE: Houston crash on North Freeway leaves baby dead, several injured

"At some point, it appears that one parent thought the other parent was maybe watching the other children when in fact, the two toddlers were left basically unsupervised inside the bedroom. The three-year-old gained access to a loaded semiautomatic pistol," Sheriff Gonzalez said Sunday night.

The sheriff says family members heard a gunshot and ran into the bedroom to find the four-year-old girl unresponsive on the floor. They called 911, and the toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.

"I do want to make sure that I emphasize that we're still in the preliminary phases of the investigation. We need to talk to everyone that's involved to try to get a full and complete story of what happened," Sheriff Gonzalez said. "But it just seems like another tragic story of, again, a child gaining access to a firearm and hurting someone else, and this time it was a fatal shot, appears to be to her sibling."

The investigation continues, and the sheriff says investigators will consult with the district attorney’s office to determine what charges could be possible.

SUGGESTED: 454 pound of marijuana seized at World Trade Bridge between Texas, Mexico: CBP

The sheriff is reminding gun owners to secure their firearms.

"It's just, again, very tragic and very preventable. You've got to make sure you're being a responsible gun owner, securing your weapons in a safe place. It's got to be more than just telling young kids not to touch the weapons," the sheriff said. "We've got to do a little bit more, and we see far too many tragic situations like this unfold."