STATESVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Iredell County Sheriff says an Iredell County mother was taking care of her baby inside her home when her other two children were playing outside, and one of them found a gun in a car and accidentally shot and killed his brother.

The parents have not been charged as of now, but the sheriff says this investigation is not over.

Neighbors often see the children playing outside, thinking nothing of it.

Late Thursday afternoon, the sounds outside the home on Fort Dobbs Road got their attention.

“All of us were in the kitchen, and we heard sirens and chaos,” said Faith Atwell, a neighbor.

Deputies say a neighbor was doing CPR when they arrived.

A three-year-old boy had been accidentally shot in the face by his five-year-old brother.

“It really shook me in a place to where I’ll never be the same after this,” said Atwell.

The sheriff says the child’s mother was inside the house taking care of her baby, and her other two kids were playing outside and got in the car, where the gun was near the front seat.

“It’s unbelievable. When it came to it, everybody jumped in to try to save that child and to be there supportive for the mother; the mother obviously heard it, was there close, I cannot imagine what she’s going through,” said Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell.

The three-year-old was rushed to a hospital nearby and then flown to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, where he died Thursday night.

“Please lock your firearms up so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Atwell.

Neighbors are pleading with everyone to practice gun safety.

“I think there’s more that needs to be done with firearms and safety because it’s real, and it happens, and within a split second, your life can change,” said Atwell.

The sheriff says this tragedy is also taking its toll on first responders and that they will have counseling for them as they need it.

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The sheriff urges people to lock up their guns. You can stop by the sheriff’s office during normal business hours to get a free gun lock, and the sheriff’s office also does outreach programs to give out the locks.

Since 2020, guns have been the leading cause of death for children ages one to 17 in the United States. Before 2020, motor vehicle deaths had long been the number one cause of death for children in that age group, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.