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Associated Press, Published December 27 2012

UPDATED: Minnesota man charged in son's accidental shooting death

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis man was charged Thursday with two felonies in the accidental shooting death of his 2-year-old son earlier this month.

The Hennepin County attorney's office charged Kao Xiong, 31, with second-degree manslaughter and endangerment of a child in the death Neejnco Xiong, who died after he was shot by his 4-year-old brother.

According to the charges, Kao Xiong, the boys’ father, left several guns within reach of the children.

The criminal complaint said Minneapolis police found four rifles and four semi-automatic handguns in Xiong's south Minneapolis two-bedroom home. Police found some of the guns stored in taped boxes in a laundry basket on a closet floor, and others in a duffel bag in a closet, according to the complaint. Police said some guns were secured in cases, some were not.

According to the complaint, Xiong told police he and his wife were getting ready for lunch on Dec. 5 when they heard a gunshot. Xiong went upstairs and found his 2-year-old son with a gunshot wound and his 4-year-old son under the bed.

Xiong told police his 4-year-old son shot the younger boy with a handgun that was wedged between the mattress and pillows of the bed. The Hennepin County medical examiner's office ruled the death accidental.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the safety on the gun was not working.

“No self-respecting gun-owner would have a handgun in such condition available to kids,” Freeman said. “That is a crime.”

Freeman said the case is difficult to prosecute because Xiong has already paid a heavy price by the loss of a child, Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/Up7yd1 ) reported.

“And yet, we have rules. And the rules about having locked guns and unloaded guns and safeties on guns and having guns that aren't available to kids are good laws,” Freeman said.

According to the complaint, Xiong told police that he owns guns for hunting. He said he has a permit to carry a gun but could not bring the semi-automatic handgun to his job at a mental health clinic. Xiong told police that on the day of the shooting, he tucked the gun behind the mattress in the bedroom, which was a location he had never stored the gun before.

The death of the young boy was a preventable tragedy, assistant Minneapolis police chief Matthew Clark said.

“We understand that the family is grieving and it's a severe loss for them and for the community to lose a child,” Clark said. “We want to make it very clear that it is the responsibility of every gun owner to secure their weapons. Make sure they are locked. And that's especially true when you have children in your home.”

Xiong was in the Hennepin County Jail on Thursday and is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org

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