SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- A toddler is very lucky to be alive after he managed to get his hands on his father's gun and fired it, earlier this week.
According to a police report from the Sandy Springs Police Department, Welkind Saint-Jean had just pulled into a parking garage on Glenlake Parkway in Sandy Springs with his 5-year-old son Monday morning.
As Saint-Jean was getting out of the car, police said his son somehow got out of his car seat, jumped over the front passenger seat and made his way to the glove compartment, pulling out a gun. The child managed to pull the weapon from its holster and fire it, sending a bullet through the front windshield and into the concrete roof of the garage.
Officers from the Sandy Springs Police Department responded to the scene and found bullet fragments on the ground next to the vehicle. They also found the shell casing in the front passenger seat. Emergency responders checked out the child for injuries, but found he only had a small bruise on his right cheek area.
The Clayton County Police Department later confirmed with 11Alive that Saint-Jean is an officer with their force. Police Chief Michael Register declined a request for an on-camera interview, but the department sent a statement indicating they are "examining the incident at this time." The department also said they've determined that Saint-Jean will have to undergo additional training on how to safely secure his weapon.
At this time, Sandy Springs Police said they are investigating the incident and said the officer could face criminal charges.
11Alive's Ron Jones will have more on this story later on 11Alive News at 10 and 11 p.m.
While it's fortunate this incident did not result in an accidental death, the rate of child deaths from guns remains high compared to other states, according to one Georgia Bureau of Investigation official.
Last year, 11Alive spoke to Trebor Randle, the GBI special agent in charge of reviewing all injury, sleep-related and unexpected or suspicious deaths of those under the age of 18. Every day, Randle gets a morgue report with a list of Georgia's children killed.
"Our numbers are very high compared to other states, and when you look at accidental shootings of children, particularly by children, it's very alarming because they're 100 percent preventable," Randle told 11Alive's Rebecca Lindstrom.
Randle told 11Alive in 2016 that at least 15 children had died in the past three years after getting access to guns. She stressed that these incidents are not suicides or homicides. They're shootings that were never meant to happen.
"You don't want to punish anyone twice who's lost a child, but in this day, we really have to have tough conversations about holding individuals accountable when a child does get access to a weapon," she said.
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