MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 26-year-old man is facing felony charges after police say a child got a hold of a loaded gun he left out in a church gym Saturday and accidentally fired it.
Earlier the same day, a 7-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his older brother at a home in Parkway Village.
Memphis is one of the worst cities in the country when it comes to accidental shootings involving children, according to the Safe Tennessee Project.
So far this year, six children have been hurt in accidental shootings. Three of those children died.
“It seems like more and more kids are picking up these guns,” Sharron Thompson said. “They pick them up and think it’s a toy gun, and they pull the trigger like ‘pow pow,’ like western movies or something like that, and it devastates families. When they get older, they’re going to look back on that and realize what they’ve done.”
Giovanni Dallas is now facing several charges in this latest case, including reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon.
Court records show a small boy found Dallas’ gun under the bleachers in the gym at World Overcomers Church and picked it up, setting it off.
No one was hurt.
Investigators say Dallas also didn’t have a gun permit.
“It’s a lot of people that use guns for safety, but when they leave it out like that, anybody could just pick it up,” Latara Watkins said.
In 2017, Memphis ranked first in the country for shootings involving children who got their hands on guns that weren’t holstered or locked up.
That same year, the Memphis Police Department started giving away gun locks in an attempt to keep these tragedies from continuing.
“They need to secure these guns. We’ve got enough of them on the streets as it is,” Thompson said.
WREG wanted to see how fast and easy it would be to get one of those gun locks. We walked into the MPD’s Crump Precinct on Saturday morning, asked for a free gun lock and walked out with it in less than 10 seconds – no questions asked.
You can pick up a gun lock at any police precinct in the city, seven days a week.
Dallas will face a judge Tuesday.
No charges have been filed in the Parkway Village shooting.