16-month-old boy shot dead by his 5-year-old brother in Indiana, police say

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) - A 16-month-old boy was shot dead by his five-year-old brother earlier this week in an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana, police said on Thursday, the latest in dozens of shootings involving young children in the U.S. this year.

Authorities said they responded to a report of a shooting at the apartment in Lafayette, 60 miles (96 km) north of Indianapolis, on Tuesday and found the boy dead from a gunshot wound.

"Detectives with the Lafayette Police Department determined that the child was shot by his five-year-old sibling, who was able to gain access to a weapon in the apartment," police said in a statement.

More than five dozen unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 25 deaths and 39 injuries across the United States, have been reported so far in 2023, according to data from Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group.

Tippecanoe County Coroner's Office performed an autopsy on Wednesday and identified the slain boy as Isiah Johnson. The coroner's office found the preliminary cause of death to be one gunshot wound.

When the shooting took place, an adult and the two children were inside the apartment, police said. The five-year-old who shot the baby boy was able to gain access to a handgun in the apartment, they said.

Captain Brian Phillips from the Lafayette Police Department declined to provide more details but said police were probing who owned the weapon. No arrests were made.

A person from outside the apartment called emergency officials, local media reported. When authorities arrived on the scene, the 16-month-old was pronounced dead.

Police said on Thursday that after they finish their probe, they will send their findings to the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's Office to determine whether any charges were needed to be filed.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Frank McGurty and Stephen Coates)