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4-year-old New Jersey boy shoots friend in apparent accident

by

By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian

(Reuters) - A 4-year-old New Jersey boy shot and seriously injured a 6-year-old boy with a rifle he found in his family's home, police said on Tuesday.

The shooting, in Toms River, New Jersey on Monday, came two days after another 4-year-old shot and killed the wife of a sheriff's deputy at her home in Lebanon, Tennessee, using a handgun he found on a bed.

Both shootings were under investigation but believed to be accidental, authorities said.

Toms River police chief Michael Mastronardy told Reuters that the two children were playing with a golf cart outside the 4-year-old's home when the younger boy went inside and got a .22 caliber rifle. The boy then either pulled the trigger or discharged the gun by accident, striking his friend in the head.

The 4-year-old's mother called 911 and the older boy was rushed to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, New Jersey, where he remained in serious condition on Tuesday, Mastronardy said.

"This is a tragic accident and our thoughts go out to the family," Mastronardy said. "We encourage everyone to take a look and make sure their weapons are safe and secure."

Mastronardy would not comment on whether the weapon belonged to a licensed gun owner, saying the matter was under investigation.

President Barack Obama has been pressing Congress to pass stricter gun control laws in recent weeks in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 children and six adults dead.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Steve Orlofsky)

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