HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A 3-year-old boy was killed in an accidental shooting that took place Thursday in the Limestone at Arrowhead community, according to Horry County Coroner Robert Edge.
On Friday, Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler identified the child as Brooks Steen of the Myrtle Beach area.
The death is under investigation by Horry County police and appears accidental. Edge said the child got a hold of a weapon, which led to the shooting.
Steen was inside the home he shared with his mother and grandfather when he found a gun and accidentally shot himself. Neighbors said his family is left grief stricken.
It is currently unclear how the 3-year-old was able to retrieve the gun and then fire it.
According to neighbors, the little boy's mother picked him up and ran to the house across the street yelling for help following the gunshot.
A neighbor then drove the young boy and his mother to Grand Strand Medical Center's emergency room. Steen was pronounced dead Thursday afternoon.
According to neighbors, Steen was an only child and his grandfather's only grandchild. Many said they do not understand how a tragedy such as this could happen to what they described as an amazing family.
Online records for the Horry County Police Department state a death investigation was registered at a location on Afton Court. The incident is listed as happening at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday
Following the shooting, officials with the HCPD posted information about firearm safety and the "huge responsibilities" that come with owning weapons.
"Our prayers are with the family and everyone who has to endure such tragedy, including our own personnel," the Facebook post said in part. "However, we would be remiss to not remind everyone of the huge responsibilities associated with owning firearms."
Krystal Dotson, public information officer for the HCPD, did not want to discourage people from owning guns. However, she strongly encourages everyone to practice good safety procedures when it comes to their weapons.
"A lot of the gun toys look like real guns, and that's a great opportunity to say that not all guns are toys," Dotson said. "And you want the child to be aware of the damage. But, obviously, there are children that are not (at) all of age to comprehend that message, and that's why it's crucial and a best, safe practice to keep it locked, keep a gun lock on it, and keep it out of the reach of children."
This is not the first time a child has died in an accidental shooting that happened in either the Grand Strand or the Pee Dee.
In 2016, a 12-year-old was killed and a 7-year-old was hurt in the same incident in the Coward area of Florence County. Deputies said in that shooting an 11-year-old got a hold of the gun and accidentally fired it one time, killing 12-year-old Mason Powell. No one was charged in the case.
Also in 2016, a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in Lumberton. Officials said he found a gun stored behind the counter of a store his father owned and managed to pull the trigger.
According to website GunViolenceArchive.org, this is the first deadly accidental shooting involving a child in South Carolina for 2017.
The website states 211 accidental shootings involving children 11 years or age or younger have happened since 2014. Nine of those occurred in South Carolina.