LOUISA COUNTY, Va. – A Virginia toddler died Tuesday after his older brother accidentally shot him with a gun the boy thought was a toy, according to the Louisa County Sheriff's Office.
It's not yet clear how the 4-year-old boy had access to the weapon, which he fired Tuesday morning, striking his 2-year-old brother – identified as Tyler Aponte – in the chest, according to Major Donald A. Lowe.
"It's of paramount importance to make sure your guns are secured and out of the reach of children and everything," Major Lowe said. "At least have them unloaded or a safety lock on them, whatever you have to do to keep them from being discharged accidentally."
The children's mother was at home when the shooting occurred, authorities said.
"It will be thoroughly investigated," Major Lowe said. "Our heart breaks for this family... they're devastated, naturally, so we want to do everything we can to help them."
Neighbor Linda Eddy told WTVR she's known the Aponte family for more than a decade.
"There's no way they would leave a loaded gun out," she said. "They're good people, good Christians, good people. They take care of their children [and] make sure they have everything they need. I know this is going to be tragic to them."
Eddy said she was not sure how Tyler's mother would make it through the tragedy.
"I don't know how she is going to do it, but she believes in the Lord, so that's good," she said.