A 6-year-old girl was in fair condition late Sunday after she was accidentally shot by her 7-year-old brother with a gun her mother had left on a kitchen counter, according to Hillsborough sheriff's officials. Laura Perez was hit in the face with a bullet from a .32-caliber automatic handgun, sheriff's spokesman Jack Espinosa said.
According to reports, deputies were called to the home on 30th Street SE in Ruskin shortly before 3 p.m. to quell a fight between the girl's parents, Oscar and Tomasa Sanchez.
Deputy J. Caradero had been outside talking with Oscar Sanchez for about 40 minutes when they heard a gunshot from inside the house, Espinosa said.
They ran inside and found that Laura had been shot.
Espinosa said Oscar Sanchez had left the gun with his wife, and she placed it on a kitchen counter while she was doing the dishes.
Laura was in the kitchen playing with her brother when he picked up the gun from the counter and it fired, hitting her in the face, Espinosa said. Authorities did not release the boy's name.
The girl was taken by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, where she was listed in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
"She's very lucky," Espinosa said. The bullet apparently damaged the girl's nose and right eye.
Detectives are trying to piece together the details of how the gun was left out, how the boy came to pick it up and who owns the gun. Espinosa said the information will be turned over to the state attorney's office to determine whether charges should be filed against the parents.
Under a law enacted in Florida last year, gun owners must make sure that children age 15 and under do not have access to loaded weapons. If someone is injured or killed when a child gets access to a gun, the gun owners can be charged with a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.