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6-year-old boy shot and killed; father charged, but not for pulling the trigger

DeKalb County Police charged the father for leaving his long gun, loaded, where his children could access it.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A father in DeKalb County is facing charges in the Friday afternoon shooting death of his 6-year-old son.

The father didn’t pull the trigger. His 8-year-old son did, accidentally, according to police, inside the family’s home near Stone Mountain.

Police are charging the father who owned the gun, 29-year-old D’Onte Patterson, for leaving it where the boys could get a hold of it.

RELATED: 8-year-old accidentally shoots, kills younger brother in DeKalb County

Police arrested the father Friday night on charges of second degree murder, and cruelty to children.

The fatal shooting has left the family, and the whole neighborhood, shattered.

“I loved him like he was my own son, you know?” said Hiram McDonald, who lives next door, fighting back tears.

It was just after 1:00 p.m. Friday at the family’s home on Wood Path Drive off of South Indian Trail Road. The children were in an upstairs bedroom, according to police, when the 8-year-old boy picked up his father’s loaded long gun off of the bedroom floor and accidentally shot his 6-year-old brother.

Police said Patterson and an uncle were downstairs watching TV, and when they heard the shot, they ran upstairs, called 911, and raced the 6-year-old to a hospital, where he died.

“I’m just, it’s unbelievable,” said Parrish Hurst, who lives directly across the street and, with other neighbors, is grieving with the family.

According to police, seven children, all siblings or step-siblings, live in the house along with four adults - the parents, an uncle and a grandmother.

Hurst and other neighbors are always seeing the children playing with each other and with other neighborhood children out front, and riding their bicycles on the quiet cul-de-sac.

"My heart really goes out to the family for their loss,” Hurst said, "'cause we really have to keep an eye on our kids, these days. They get into so much, so quick. So we can't take chances with our kids. So my heart goes out, and condolences, to the family for their loss."

“It hits hard and it hits deep,” said Annette Barber, the next-door neighbor on the other side of the family’s home from where McDonald lives. 

Barber said the 6-year-old and his siblings were often playing with her grandchild in her backyard.

“It just hurts so bad to have to hear this, you know, of a shooting, again, of a child getting a hand on a gun,” Barber said.

“It’s sad, man, it’s really sad,” is how McDonald summed up the tragedy - a tragedy that neighbors said was preventable.

Police said Patterson was booked into the DeKalb County Jail Friday night and will likely make his first court appearance, before a magistrate court judge, this weekend.

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