TERRELL, Texas - A 2-year-old girl is recovering after being accidentally shot in the neck by her 3-year-old sister in Terrell Tuesday afternoon.
The girls’ father, 25-year-old Elroy Caleb Middleton, admitted to police that he left them alone in his truck while he met with a coworker at Southwestern Christian College. He said he was standing just a few feet away from the truck when he heard a gunshot.
Police said the 3-year-old toddler managed to grab a loaded handgun from under the front seat and shoot her sister.
Middleton reportedly showed up at the Terrell Police Department looking for help. Police said he was screaming and pounding at the door, but by the time officers got outside they could only find his pickup truck with the engine running and the 3-year-old still inside.
After a search around the area, police found the distraught father at a nearby fire station. He had his injured daughter, who was also screaming and crying because of the bullet in the upper left side of her neck.
Middleton explained to FOX 4 he lives on campus at Southwestern Christian College and works with security. He said he put the gun under his seat to sell it at a pawn shop for money to buy his son a birthday present. He said he typically loads his gun every night and unloads it every morning and stores it in a safety deposit box.
Middleton also said he put the girls in their car seats and stepped feet away to talk to a security guard on campus. He said in those minutes, the girls wiggled out of their car seats and got on the floor in the back seat. When his older daughter found the gun, she fired.
“In the moment, I was just rushing just to get it to the pawn shop just to see how much money I could get from it,” Middleton said. “I’m willing to admit that it was a mistake that I made.”
Police found the loaded 9 mm handgun in the truck. Although Middleton said he was “with security,” police said he is not a state licensed security officer and does not have a license to carry permit.
It is not a violation of state law to possess a firearm in a vehicle in Texas. However, it is a violation to make a weapon accessible to a minor. A full investigation is being conducted into the incident and any applicable charges will be filed at the conclusion of the investigation.
"That certainly would not be the most responsible of behaviors, and that certainly played a role in what happened," said Terrell PD Capt. Arley Sansom.
The injured 2-year-old was rushed Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Fortunately Middleton said she did not require surgery and could be released on Wednesday.
He said his oldest daughter is shaken up and thinks she did something wrong.