Father dead after 6-year-old accidentally fires gun in Indiana

James Lonaker
James Lonaker (Courtesy: WISH)

HARTSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A 62-year-old Hartsville man died Sunday night after police say his six-year-old son accidentally shot him.

Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputies responded to the 200 block of Clinton Street around 9:15 p.m. When they arrived, deputies found James Lonaker with a gunshot wound to his upper body.

Police said it appears Lonaker’s six-year-old son accidentally shot him when he picked up an unsecured .38 caliber revolver.

According to police, Lonaker was apparently sitting at his desk and didn’t see the child pick up the gun.

Police say Lonaker was being flown to IU Health Methodist Hospital when he died.

“We were best friends, I talked to my dad everyday,” said Juli Lonaker, the victim’s daughter. According to family members, Lonaker recently remarried and he has two younger children with his current wife, including the six-year-old.

The night of the shooting, his wife and one-year-old child were also in the house but were not hurt.

For some time, Lonaker carried a concealed carry permit, according to his adult children.

Juli Lonaker explained why the family agreed to do an interview about this tragic accident.

“We have a six-year-old brother. The biggest thing we need to get across is his well-being, that he should not have been in a situation where he could’ve got his hands on it,” said James Lonaker Jr.

The family is asking for the public to be sensitive to this tragedy involving their little brother.

“Some of the headlines used the word killed; my little brother is not a killer. My little brother is a little boy who likes to play and have fun and he is a good, good little boy,” said Juli Lonaker.

Sheriff Matt Myers said this was a tragic accident and wants all residents to make certain that firearms in their homes are not accessible to anyone, especially children.

The incident remains under investigation.

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