ST. LOUIS – An investigation is underway after police say a toddler found a loaded gun and shot himself in the head Wednesday afternoon in north St. Louis.

St. Louis Metropolitan police were called just after 1 p.m.Wednesday to the 900 block of Melvin Drive in the Baden neighborhood. When police responded to the area, the child, a two-year-old boy, was barely conscious and breathing. Police identified the victim as Khori Patterson on Thursday.

Chief of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Michael Sack said the child was found bleeding profusely from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, though additional details on what led up to the shooting are unknown.

The officers scooped up the child and put him into the back of their patrol car and raced to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  

Sack said his officer’s actions were faster than waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Unfortunately, the child died after reaching Kingshighway and Children’s Place near the hospital.

Sack encouraged everyone to pray for the family and to lock up their guns. He reminds gun owners to secure their guns, and keep them out of the reach of children. Sack called this an avoidable tragedy.

“Kids in our society are impressionable,” he said. “They depend on us as adults, to teach good lessons and to be good examples. If you are going to own a firearm or operate a motor vehicle, you use a gun lock and a child safety seat. It’s just common sense, it’s a necessity and it’s terrible that kids sometimes pay the price for parents’ poor choice.” 

Police began interviewing family members at the hospital and investigating the circumstances leading up to the shooting. It is unknown at the time if the police will pursue charges.