GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have released the name of the officer who left his off-duty weapon within reach of a 3-year-old child in Gaston County last week.
Officer Winsthon J. Mercedes has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The incident happened at the ABC store on Cox Road just before 6:30 p.m.
According to police, the boy was inside a car with Mercedes and a woman who are believed to be his parents.
Reportedly, Mercedes then went inside the store and left the child alone with its mother.
Shortly afterwards, the child got hold of Mercedes' off-duty firearm and fired a shot into his own thumb.
In a 911 call, an ABC store employee told a dispatcher, "A little boy just got his hand stuck in the door [....] he's bleeding really bad [....] it looks like his thumb is chopped off."
A few moments into the call, the employee hears the woman screaming that the child was actually shot.
She then told the dispatcher that witnesses told her the child shot himself with the officer's gun.
A witness told WBTV that they heard what appeared to be a loud bang and thought that a rock had struck the car. The witness then said that he saw a woman screaming and carrying the small child into the ABC store.
The boy was transported to Carolinas Medical Center and is expected to be okay.