A six-year-old McDuffie County boy is dead after being shot Tuesday afternoon when he and his older brother found a loaded handgun and began playing with it, according to authorities.
Sheriff Logan Marshall said charges could be forthcoming in the case, noting the mother of the two boys was asleep at the time of the shooting.
"There's a possibility there could be some charges brought in this case," Sheriff Marshall said. "We're still involved in the investigation right now."
He added that a caseworker with the McDuffie County Department of Family and Children's Services also has been called into the case.
The victim, identified as Austin Robertson, was treated at the scene By emergency personnel from both Warren and McDuffie counties, who responded to the 3:08 p.m. shooting call at 3848 Cedar Rock Road, about a mile from the Warren County line.
McDuffie County Coroner Rhusha Mack confirmed Tuesday night that the child died at 6:50 p.m. He said he received a telephone call from officials with the Medical College of Georgia confirming the child's death.
Coroner Mack said he would order an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. At the time he spoke with the newspaper, he was preparing to notify officials of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about the shooting death.
The child was flown By helicopter to the Medical College of Georgia hospital, shortly after 4 p.m. At that time, Sheriff Marshall said the child was in critical condition.
Sheriff Marshall said the victim and his older brother were in a bedroom of their grandfather's residence at the time of the shooting. The boys, he said, found a loaded .32-caliber handgun in a closet and began playing with it when it went off - a bullet striking the younger boy in the left side of the temple.
The gun belonged to their grandfather.
The sheriff said persons with small children should either keep a lock on their guns or in some other safe place - far out of the reach of children
Sheriff Marshall and Investigator Larry Adaway are continuing their investigation.