A 6-year-old Toms River boy who was shot in the head by a 4-year-old died Tuesday at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, according to Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy.
"It's true, it's true," a source close to he family said, when asked if Brandon Holt died after being shot in the head Monday night in the McCormick Drive yard of a 4-year-old.
Mastronardy said the matter is under investigation, and any possible criminal action would have to be reviewed by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
"It's a tragic thing that happened," said Mayor Thomas Kelaher Tuesday night. "It's a terrible tragedy."
Mastronardy said that the 4-year-old boy obtained a .22 caliber rifle from inside the residence. The state Division of Youth and Family Services were also called to the scene because there were three other children in the home.
The parents were "nearby" when the incident occurred, the chief said. The mother of the 4-year-old called 911. The 6-year-old was flown to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune with a head injury and was in serious condition as of Tuesday morning, the chief said.
Kelaher, as well as Township Council President George Wittmann, told Patch after the regular Township Council meeting that their thoughts are with the families.
"I think it's a terrible tragedy that a 4-year-old boy was able to get a hold of a rifle that was loaded," Wittman said. "I think it's incumbent upon gun owners to keep their firearms in a safe location where they cannot be accessed by children."
"It does behoove everybody who has weapons in the township to make sure they're secure," Kelaher said.
The shooting occurred in the Cedar Grove area of the township, according to Toms River schools Assistant Superintendent James Hauenstein, who received the news during a New Jersey School Boards Association meeting Monday night.
The children were outside the home when the 4-year-old boy went inside to get the rifle, and then shot the 6-year-old about 15 yards away, the chief said. Mastronardy did not say if the 4-year-old pulled the trigger, or if the rifle accidentally discharged. The 4-year-old's parents were home at the time, but no names have been released. Authorities were on scene at a McCormick Drive home Monday night and had the yard cordoned off with yellow tape.
Toms River police and county vehicles remained on the scene. Hauenstein said that the victim is a student at Saint Joseph's Grade School. He said that Toms River schools officials will be available to provide counseling services to students at Cedar Grove Elementary and Saint Joseph's.
Toms River Police Department Detectives Louis Santora and Roger Hull are investigating along with the Ocean County's prosecutor's office and sheriff's department, Mastronardy said.