A 6-year-old girl in southern Indiana was shot in the head and killed after a gun her father was cleaning accidentally went off, according to state police.

The girl, identified as Makayla S. Bowling, was killed Friday night inside a home in Washington County, Indiana, police said in a statement. The Washington County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call about an accidental shooting around 10:30 p.m.

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Authorities learned that the girl's father was inside the house cleaning a handgun he thought was unloaded when it discharged. The bullet struck the child in the head, police said.

She was transported by air ambulance to Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, about 40 miles away. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, she was pronounced dead, the statement said.

The incident is currently under investigation, but Indiana State Police detectives said that at this time they don't think foul play was involved. Authorities did not say if any charges would be filed.

Gun manuals and training protocols remind owners to check to see if a weapon is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction before starting to clean. Yet accidental shootings are a significant cause of death in the U.S.

In 2013, a North Carolina man was wiping down his shotgun when it unexpectedly went off and his 10-year-old son was shot in the head. In 2015, a Pennsylvania police chief died when a pistol he was cleaning discharged and shot him in the chest. In 2017, a gun range employee in Texas accidentally shot and killed a man while cleaning a hunting rifle. Just last month, two men were cleaning guns in Burlington, North Carolina, when a rifle discharged and one of the men died after being shot in the abdomen.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 489 deaths in 2015 that were the result of accidental shootings. Of those deaths, nearly 50 cases involved victims who were aged 14 or younger.


This article was written by Allyson Chiu, a reporter for The Washington Post.