MILWAUKEE — A 9-year-old boy obtained a firearm in a home and unintentionally shot himself, Milwaukee police say. That boy is nine-year-old Justin Edwards.
Police said it happened around 5:38 p.m. Tuesday in the 4500 block of North 21st Street.
His mother, Shalonda Pinnix, told us she was not home at the time of the incident, but wants people to know it was nothing more than an accident.
She said her son is in stable condition and alert after his surgery.
"They just had to repair one of his intestines because he was shot in the stomach," Pinnix said. "He is still in critical condition, but the condition is improving every minute."
She describes her son as a friendly kid who loves video games, eating out and playing football.
The family has lived in the neighborhood at 21st and Cornell for the past five months, and in that short time, Justin has formed a great bond with neighbors like Lamart Kazee.
"He's the kind of kid that will make you get to know him," Kazee said. "He's just your average nine-year-old child that liked to be outside, talkative and playful."
Milwaukee Police arrested a 31-year-old man in connection to the shooting. Pinnix said he is not Justin's father.
"That is a person who loves Justin very much and would never hurt Justin," she said.
This year more children are being impacted by gun violence.
According to the Milwaukee Police Department, so far in 2021, 95 victims under the age of 17 have been shot and injured. That's compared to 57 kids in all of 2020.
Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffery Norman highlighted the issue of guns being too available to children.
"It's always disheartening to see our children being harmed or being killed by negligent handling of firearms," Chief Norman said. "Being in the forefront and being in partnership with our community, stakeholders need to continue to have the messaging in regards to responsibility and understanding that we all have a hand in making our community safe for our kids."
As of Wednesday afternoon, Justin has a breathing tube in, but he is alert and nods when asked something, and reaches for hugs, Pinnix told TMJ4's Ubah Ali.
"I just want everyone to pray for my son and continue to keep him in prayers, because he is fighting," she said.
Milwaukee police are reminding the public the importance of using a gunlock.
"MPD would like to remind the public to keep firearms locked with a gunlock and secured in an area out of the reach of children. If anyone needs a gunlock, please contact your local district to check the availability of free gunlocks," according to a statement from police.