BATTLE GROUND, Wash. – The three-year-old son of a Clark County deputy accidentally shot himself in the head inside their home Tuesday night and later died, investigators said.
Three-year-old Ryan Owens passed away in the hospital early Wednesday morning, said Lt. Roy Butler with the Clark County Sheriff's Office.
Ryan had been rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, but he still could not be saved, Butler said.
Meantime, investigators remained at the scene. Deputies said the toddler’s dad was off-duty and home when the toddler accidentally shot himself.
“I can’t express the frustration that I have felt and still feel to know that we have lost another life. I am absolutely heartbroken for this family,” Sheriff Garry Lucas said Wednesday.
Investigators said the weapon used by the toddler was the deputy's personal gun, not his service weapon. No further details in the shooting were released.
“This is a tragedy for the family involved and for the greater department family,” said Chad Rothenberger, a spokesman for the Clark County Sheriff's Office. “This event also emphasizes the risk inherent with firearms and we encourage anyone who possesses a firearm to ensure that it is safely secured.”
The accidental shooting occurred around 10 p.m. Tuesday. Ryan died at 2 a.m., Wednesday. A regional major crimes unit comprised of detectives from Vancouver, Battle Ground and Clark County were working together in the investigation.
Back in 2003, the son of a Clark County sergeant accidentally shot and killed his younger sister with their dad’s handgun. Days later, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office began requiring that deputies lock up their service weapons at home.
“The Sheriff's Office is no stranger to tragedy, and took significant steps to ensure that appropriate firearms storage policies and procedures are in place following the very tragic death of Emily Randall in 2003,” Rothenberger said.
As part of that policy, the sheriff issued lock boxes to all deputies and asked that they safely secure their service weapons inside them while off-duty. That policy also recommended, but did not require that deputies lock up their personal weapons as well.