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Pinellas County investigators: Parents of Palm Harbor boy shot in the head forgot they had gun

PALM HARBOR — The parents of a 12-year-old boy who shot himself in the head last week forgot they kept a gun in their closet, according to Pinellas County sheriff's investigators.

Jacob Larson was discovered by his stepfather, 50-year-old Joseph Newton, about 11 a.m. Friday at the family's home at 435 Laughing Gull Lane. He had a gunshot wound to the head, but is still alive and remains hospitalized, deputies said.

The shooting is being investigated as accidental because deputies say they found no evidence that it was a suicide attempt or a result of bullying.

A day after the shooting, the boy's half-brother, Mark Larson, told the St. Petersburg Times the incident was a "mystery" because he didn't think the family had a gun in the home.

"They are not ones to have guns," Larson said. "They are so against that."

According to detectives, Jacob's mother, 42-year-old Tracy Newman, and his stepfather said they forgot they stored a small .25-caliber handgun in a box in the closet. Newman told detectives she received the gun six years ago from her employer and she had never checked it or fired it.

The gun was described as an old, small semiautomatic weapon of European make. Detectives think Jacob retrieved the gun sometime after 7:40 a.m., when his mother left for work. He typically leaves for school about 8:30 or 9. He was discovered when his stepfather got home from work about 11.

No charges have been filed, deputies said, and Newman and Newton are being cooperative.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

Pinellas County investigators: Parents of Palm Harbor boy shot in the head forgot they had gun 04/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009 8:10pm]
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