EAST LAKE — A toddler died Wednesday afternoon after he found his father's gun in the family car and shot himself, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.
Kevin Ahles had left his 2-year-old son, Kaleb, in the front seat of the car and returned to carrying boxes in preparation for a family move to Hernando County. Kaleb somehow crawled across the seat and opened the glove compartment, where his father kept a .380-caliber handgun, deputies said.
Kaleb then lifted the gun, turned it so that it faced his chest and squeezed the trigger.
Ahles, 23, heard a loud pop and sprinted back to the dark-colored Nissan. Kaleb's mother, Christina Nigro, 23, performed CPR. Deputies responded to the home at 1094 Misty Hollow Lane at 4:47 p.m. and an ambulance took Kaleb to Medical Center of Trinity, where he was pronounced dead.
At a news conference in Misty Woods, the family's neighborhood, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said detectives were able to confirm that Kaleb fired the gun and that he was not shot by someone else.
"He probably barely got the trigger pulled," Gualtieri said, adding that it was a lightweight weapon usually carried in a pocket or on a hip.
There was no wrongdoing, Gualtieri said, and the parents are not facing criminal charges. Nobody could punish the parents more than they'll punish themselves, he said.
"It appears to be another tragic situation," Gualtieri said. "It's just one of those things that happens where everything happens the wrong way."
The toddler's grandfather, a retired Tampa police detective also named Kevin Ahles, said he received a call about what happened to Kaleb and immediately drove to East Lake. Standing outside the police tape, he summed up the tragedy.
"A great little kid was killed today," he said. "That's all there is to say."