APD: 4-year-old girl shot self with gun left on kitchen counter

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 15:28
  • Star photo by Matt Tunseth

A 4-year-old girl is expected to survive a self-inflicted gunshot wound suffered after she apparently picked up a loaded handgun left on a kitchen counter and shot herself at a home in the Prudhoe Bay Avenue area of Eagle River.

According to the Anchorage Police Department, officers were called to a residence on the 30900 block at around 10:17 a.m. Wednesday for a report of a shooting. The girl was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the upper body, police said.

“The victim is visting family at the residence and does not normally live there,” police wrote in an online account of the incident. “Initial indications are that the wound was self-inflicted and the loaded handgun had intentionally been left on the kitchen counter due to the area’s bear population.”

Police said one adult and “several” children were also in the home at the time of the shooting. The case remains under investigation and as of Wednesday afternoon no charges had been filed.

Bear sightings are common in the heavily wooded neighborhood, which overlooks the Eagle River less than two miles from the Eagle River Nature Center. Center operations manager Laura Kruger said sightings of black and brown bears are reported to center staff “every few days” in summer.

“You’re in bear country,” she said.

Kruger said bear activity hasn’t been any higher than usual this summer — though it’s expected to pick up soon as salmon return to spawn in the river. She said staff advise those traveling in bear country to practice basic safety measures such as carrying bear spray, making noise, not wearing headphones, understanding bear behavior and not leaving out food or garbage.

Last year, Fish and Game biologists shot two black bears in the neighborhood that were breaking into people’s cars in search of food.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated from a previous version to correct Kruger’s title.

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