GLENDALE, AZ (KTVK/CNN) - A father in Arizona faces charges of child abuse and aggravated assault after an accidental shooting left his 6-year-old daughter in critical condition.
Eldon McInville, 26, began sobbing Friday when a judge told him he couldn’t go home. He pleaded for mercy, as his cash-only bond was set at $50,000. If the father posts bail, he would not be able to see his 6-year-old daughter while the case is pending.
The judge said the circumstances of the shooting had been “exceedingly reckless,” and his bond was already a fraction of what it would have been had the incident been intentional.
McInville told police he was teaching his 6-year-old daughter about gun safety Thursday afternoon at their Glendale, AZ, home, but the lesson ended in horror.
The father says after cleaning his new shotgun, he loaded it then slipped. Somehow, the gun went off, hitting the 6-year-old girl in her stomach.
McInville was the one who called 911. He told the dispatcher his daughter's "intestines were visible." The girl was airlifted to the hospital in life-threatening condition and underwent emergency surgery.
"They said she was the bravest, strongest girl they’ve ever seen. She was talking. She wasn’t crying. She was asking questions as any 6-year-old would do,” said Sgt. John Roth with the Glendale Police Department.
Court documents show McInville told police he watched YouTube to learn how to clean and load the shotgun for the first time. Virgil Bland, a gun safety class instructor, says that fact is very concerning.
“The real issue is it’s kind of the blind leading the blind in this situation,” Bland said. “He’s trying to teach his daughter firearm safety when it sounds like, more or less, he was trying to learn firearm safety in his own right.”
Bland says McInville should have never been handling the gun with his daughter in the room, and YouTube should never be the only gun lesson somebody gets.
Police say this is a painful lesson about gun safety. Experts advise new or unfamiliar gun owners to use a lock on their firearms, especially if they have young children.
"Everybody needs to pay attention with guns and make sure there are no kids around when you’re manipulating them in any way,” Roth said. “It’s just a tragic lesson that many of us have heard. Guns are mishandled for one reason or another and have to strike something, and tragically, this little one was in the way.”
According to court documents, police found a second loaded shotgun in McInville’s bedroom closet and a loaded .357 Magnum revolver on a TV stand within reach of the 6-year-old. Both guns were unsecured.
The 6-year-old remains in critical condition in the hospital and will have to undergo multiple surgeries for her injuries.
McInville faces charges of child abuse causing serious physical injury and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is due back in court on May 6.