A stunned nation is left with unanswered questions after a New Jersey toddler shot and killed his 6-year-old friend
as the boys played outside Monday.
Neighbors said Brandon Holt and his 4-year-old friend were playing "pretend shooting" in the friend's yard on Monday in Toms River. Around 6:45 p.m., the 4-year-old ran inside his house and came out with a .22 caliber rifle. The gun went off — it's unclear whether the child pulled the trigger or the weapon discharged on its own — and Holt was hit in the head.
Holt died Tuesday at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune as police investigated how the toddler was able to get his hands on the gun and prosecutors considered whether charges should be filed against his parents.
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Detectives retrieved eight to 10 weapons from the 4-year-old's home, but wouldn’t comment on if the firearms were legally owned. Neither the child nor his parents have been named, but neighbors identified the adults as Anthony and Melissa Senatore, according to the Star-Ledger.
Under state law, anyone who knows that a child under the age of 16 could access a loaded firearm in their home can be charged with a disorderly persons offense if they fail to securely it or install a trigger lock. But advocates for reducing gun violence and a state lawmaker told the Star-Ledger that the law is ineffective because most people don't even know it exists and prosecutors rarely, if ever, bring charges when a problem arises.
The tragic crime left many with unanswered questions. Why was the gun loaded? Why was it in a place where the 4-year-old had access to it? Why did the family have so many weapons?
"What I'm having a hard time understanding is how this 4-year-old was physically able to pick up a .22 caliber rifle and shoot someone in the head at 45 feet," dfwamerica commented on the Star-Ledger's story. "And why was rifle loaded and unsecured from access to a minor?"
"Anthony Senatore should be spending the next 6 months in jail," Bryan391 posted. "There's nothing to discuss. If they don't charge him I'll sue that town for selective prosecution or something myself."
"People with guns seem to be stupid enough to think kids, especially boys, will 'respect' the guns and not touch them," JRZINTEGRITYNOW said. "Why the HELL was a loaded rifle within reach of a 4-year-old boy and why did they need 8-10 guns in a house with children. Idiots that have now cost a 6-year-old his life."
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