Queen Creek toddler shoots self with grandmother's gun

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QUEEN CREEK -- A Queen Creek toddler is in critical condition after shooting himself with his grandmother's gun Saturday afternoon.

According to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, it happened shortly before noon at the grandmother's home near Ironwood and Germann roads.

Investigators said the 3-year-old was visiting his grandmother, and apparently was playing when he found the loaded 9mm handgun under the couch.

The grandmother said she had left the room. That's when she heard the pop of the gunshot. She believed that pop was a balloon the little boy had been playing with, but the toddler had accidentally shot himself in the head.

The little boy was badly injured -- authorities on the scene described the injury as "through and through," meaning that there was an exit wound -- but he was breathing on his own when was air-lifted to Maricopa Medical Center. Doctors there immediately rushed the child into surgery. At last check, he was in critical condition.

"This is a huge reminder ... we need  to secure our weapons," said Sheriff Paul Babeu. "If they are out in the open and you can't secure them, separate the ammunition from the weapon. We understand everybody's rights and privileges to safeguard and protect their homes and their own safety, but a case like this is just a tragic situation."

It's not yet clear if any charges will be filed in connection with the shooting.

"We have to look at all factors," Babeu said. "We have to gather all the facts and dispassionately make a decision about what will happen."

The incident is under investigation.