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WEST VALLEY CITY -- Police say it happens way too often: someone handling a firearm accidentally fires it, injuring or killing someone else. Friday, an accidental weapon discharge landed a little boy in the hospital.
Police say it comes down to firearm safety. If the owner would have used caution, this accident never would have happened.
There are basic firearm rules that we need to watch and address every single time, and the first one is that all guns are always loaded.
–Lt. Bill Merritt, West Valley City police
"There are basic firearm rules that we need to watch and address every single time, and the first one is that all guns are always loaded," said West Valley police Lt. Bill Merritt.
But that's exactly what police say a West Valley City man didn't do, and now a 3-year-old boy is in the hospital. The shooting happened just before 1 p.m. at a house near 3100 West and 4400 South.
Police say the man was showing his girlfriend his newly-purchased 9 mm handgun when he accidentally fired it into the floor of this home.
"It went right through the floor, passed through some drywall downstairs and into an adjacent room where the boy was playing. So, it actually passed through a floorboard and some pieces of drywall before it struck the boy," Merritt said.
The little boy in the downstairs apartment was playing in his room at the time, and the round went into his hip.
The man's girlfriend told KSL News off camera they didn't know the gun had fired a bullet until they heard screaming from downstairs.
"The little boy, as we know, is in stable condition. Doctors are telling us that he does not have life-threatening injuries. The bullet did not come out, so they do need to go in and remove it surgically," Merritt said.
The property's landlord says it was an accident and his thoughts are with both families involved.
"My conversation with the family is that the boy will be OK. It's just unfortunate that something like this would happen," landlord Jon Fidler said.
It may be unfortunate, but police say it was completely preventable.
"We're just extremely grateful that this little boy is safe," Merritt said. "No matter if you think it's loaded or not, treat it as if it's loaded."
Police have not yet released the little boy's name or the name of the gun owner. No word yet on whether the owner faces any criminal charges.