LAS VEGAS -- Metro police want families across the valley to have a safe holiday season. With more kids home on their holiday breaks, that means locking up any firearms in your house.
Metro officer Jason Cunningham has a personal tie to this message. He found his dad’s gun and accidentally shot himself when he was four.
“I tried to shoot the gun because that’s what they did on TV,” he said. “I turned it around and used my thumbs. My thumbs were strong enough.”
So Cunningham knows just how easy it is for children to find a gun and pull that trigger.
The Mohler family also shared their story. Their daughter Brooklyn was accidentally shot and killed in 2013.
“I don’t call them accidents because they’re preventable,” Brooklyn’s mother Darchel Mohler said.
One day afterschool, Brooklyn went to a friend’s house.
Her parents said they asked their daughter everything: Who was she hanging out with? Did she wear her seatbelt?
“And that was the only question we never asked: “Were there any unsecured firearms in that house?” Brooklyn’s father Jacob Mohler said.
Brooklyn’s friend showed off her dad’s gun, left in the kitchen, and accidentally hit the 13-year-old, killing her.
“I was unfortunately the first one there because I was coming to pick her up,” Jacob said.
Brooklyn was the middle child, a competitive gymnast and honor roll student.
“She’d bring home all these stray animals and try to find homes for them,” her mom said. “I miss that.”
Her parents said she wanted to become a teacher.
“Her life was cut too short,” Darchel said. “I would have loved to see her grow up and see what she would have accomplished. She was that amazing.”
For a while, her parents admitted they were angry.
“Why is my daughter in a body bag and nobody is accountable for her death?” Darchel wondered. “It was unbelievable. I was very angry. I had to turn my anger into something positive.”
The Mohlers now share their story in hopes gun owners will lock up their firearms and parents will ask the right questions.
“There are parents out there that think they don’t need to listen to our message,” Darchel said. “But it’s until they realize you don’t have to be a gun owners to be affected by this. Brooklyn was in another home and we were affected by this. It is a nightmare. What we do is never going to bring my daughter back. Hopefully we can prevent another family from ever, ever living this nightmare.”
In all three of this year’s incidents, Metro police said the parents, who were also the gunowners, were arrested and charged with child neglect.
Those three shootings were only in Metro’s jurisdiction. In November, North Las Vegas police said a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot himself near Bruce and Lone Mountain. Several people were in the home at the time, including another child.