LAKELAND — A four year old boy was shot in the chest with a BB gun on Thursday, prompting Polk County’s sheriff to issue a warning about how dangerous these guns can be when children can find and use them.
The child, Brandon Boyer Jr., who was born in January 2008, was initially airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, then flown to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. He’s now listed in stable condition.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office got the call around 1 p.m. on Thursday, that someone living at 4561 Old Government Road in Lakeland had been shot in the chest with a BB gun. That victim turned out to be young Brandon.
Although the shooting appears to be accidental and “no charges are expected related to the discharge of the BB gun at this time,” said Donna Wood, the public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the incident did prompt the law enforcement agency to warn residents that these guns don’t belong in the hands of children.
“This is another reminder for parents — BB guns can be very dangerous,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “Children must be properly supervised around them at all times. Guns — all guns — should be properly stored and locked.”
Parents who own shooting weapons, including BB guns, the sheriff said, need to understand that if there are children in the house, it can be tragic if the kids can access them.
“Having firearms in the home comes with a very serious responsibility for the owner to make sure they are not used irresponsibly and that they are kept safe and secure,” Judd said. “Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, we must teach children what to do and what not to do when they are around guns.”
As part of an investigation into the shooting incident, detectives learned that Brandon had been visiting the home where the incident occurred. Brandon, his cousin, 10-year-old John Boyer-Sweeney, and another relative, 20-year-old Chad Boyer, reportedly went into a bedroom in the house to retrieve the BB gun, with the plan to take it outside for what Wood said was going to be “target practice.”
The gun was a Crosman Powermaster BB repeater pump action .177 caliber, wrapped in a blanket and left lying on a bed, Wood said.
“John picked up the gun and felt it fire,” she said. “The BB struck Brandon in his chest and traveled through his chest cavity, where it is now permanently lodged in his heart. According to medical personnel, the BB will not be removed.”
The people living at the home include Brandon’s grandparents, Charles and Tracey Boyer.
Although 10-year-old John was not charged for the accidential shooting, detectives did arrest Charles Boyer, 45, after they discovered ingredients, materials, and items used to manufacture Methamphetamine in the house.
Charles Boyer was charged him with child abuse, manufacturing methamphetamine, maintaining a dwelling for manufacturing methamphetamine with a minor present, possession of a criminally listed chemical, possession of Methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The child abuse charge, Wood said, related to “the dangerous chemicals and processes involved in manufacturing and producing Methamphetamine with children in the home. The Department of Children and Families has been notified.”
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