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8-year-old shoots 9-year-old brother with handgun in Federal Way, police say

The 8-year-old had a handgun in the apartment when it went off, striking his 9-year-old brother, according to Federal Way police.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Police are investigating after a 9-year-old boy was shot by his 8-year-old brother Thursday morning in Federal Way.

According to the Federal Way Police Department, officers responded to a multi-family housing complex on the 1200 block of South 336th Street just before 8 a.m.

The 8-year-old had a handgun in the apartment when it went off, striking his 9-year-old brother, according to police.

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Federal Way police, along with fire and medic personnel, responded to the scene and gave the boy medical aid.

The 9-year-old was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. A Harborview spokesperson confirmed just after 11 a.m. the child was in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.

Hours after the shooting police said an 18-year-old sibling brought the handgun into the home and left it unsecured. According to police the parents did not know. 

Gun safety advocates said there are laws in place to prevent this and now neighbors at the complex are concerned as well.  

For Ameer Hassan, there were a lot of questions when he found out about the shooting that happened in the same complex he and his family live. 

Hassan said his kids play outside every day after school.

"No more going outside, they stay home," Hassan said. "No more going outside.  It's scary. I don't want to lose my kids."

Police are investigating how the child got the handgun. 

“This is an unthinkable tragedy that happens far to often in our communities,” said Kristen Ellingboe, the Communications Manager for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

Alliance for Gun Responsibility focuses on ending gun violence in Washington.

“Safely storing firearms in particular storing them locked, unloaded and separated from ammunition has proven to work to prevent unintentional shootings,” Ellingboe said. 

According to King County, between 2013 and 2017, an average of 155 people died from firearm injuries and 149 were hospitalized between 2016 and 2017.

Twenty-one percent of adults in King County had at least one firearm in their home. In 2018 voters approved initiative 16-39 which includes firearm storage requirements among other things. 

For those that live in the complex, like Hassan, it’s a harsh reminder of what can happen.

"I'm scared for my kids right now because I live in this apartment," Hassan said. "That's my neighbor."

William Kirk, an attorney who specializes in cases involving lawful and responsible gun ownership, said it's possible the 18-year-old sibling could face charges relating to a state gun law.

The law, known as Initiative Measure 1639, includes a section that details the potential consequences of unsafe storage of a firearm. 

"What the law does make clear is that if you fail to secure a firearm, if you leave it unattended where it can be accessed by unauthorized people, and then bad things happen, such as what happened in this case, then yeah you can be held criminally liable for that," Kirk said. 

Kirk said charges could include a felony charge known as “community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm.” 

It is unknown if anyone in the family has been charged. Federal Way Police said it is currently an active investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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