NYPD Officer's Son Critically Hurt After Firing Father's Gun

Cross-X

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Officer's Son Critically Hurt After Firing Father's Gun

By AL BAKER
Published: May 2, 2006
The 10-year-old son of a New York City police officer was on life support at a Long Island hospital yesterday, a day after he shot himself in the face with the revolver his father uses while off duty, the authorities said.

As a stream of relatives and family friends went to the bedside of the boy, Tyler Dunne, at Nassau University Medical Center, the New York Police Department continued to review the circumstances of the shooting, which occurred in the basement of the Dunne home in Massapequa.

So far it appears that no crime was committed, said Detective Lt. Dennis Farrell, the commander of the Nassau County Police Department's Homicide Squad, which is leading the investigation.

"The district attorney reviews all incidents like this," said Lieutenant Farrell, who said investigators believe the shooting was accidental. "The D.A. will have the final word on this. New York City will do its own internal investigation, obviously."

At issue is how the .38-caliber gun belonging to Officer Joseph T. Dunne, a 14-year veteran assigned to the Midtown North Precinct station, on West 54th Street, wound up in Tyler's hands. Officials in the city are seeking the facts with an eye toward preventing similar occurrences in the future, the police said. The five-shot revolver was registered with the city police as one of Officer Dunne's "legitimate weapons," Lieutenant Farrell said.

Keeping guns safely secured while off duty is a prime consideration for police officers, particularly for those with families at home. While accidental shootings by officers' children are rare, the New York Police Department's history is marked by some wrenching cases: a 6-year-old New Windsor girl fatally shot her 5-year-old brother with their father's gun in 2000; the 13-year-old son of a city police sergeant took a revolver from a locked gun case in his Lindenhurst home in 1995 and fired it, wounding himself.

Officially, police officers are required to keep their guns in a secure place while off duty, according to the Patrol Guide, the department's policy manual.

"Safeguard weapons at all times," the guide states in a section titled, "Firearms General Regulations." It goes on: "Do not store or leave firearms in an unattended motor vehicle. Do not carry firearms in briefcases, handbags, fanny packs, hip packs, tote bags, knapsacks, paper bags or similar devices."

"There have been some tragic results with these things," said James F. McShane, a former Police Department chief who retired in 2003 as the executive officer of the Narcotics Division. "It is the kind of thing where you don't want to make a mistake."

While still on the job, Mr. McShane said, he kept his gun unloaded and locked inside a steel box in his home to protect his young children, which he said was the best method. "That way it is doubly safe," he said.

In the case of Tyler Dunne, the boy got hold of his father's weapon about 6:15 p.m. on Sunday while his father was not home.

The police said the boy found the gun under some clothes on a closet shelf in the family's finished basement while looking for a small rubber ball. Tyler's 8-year-old sister was nearby watching television and was apparently unaware that Tyler had found the gun, Lieutenant Farrell said.

"It appears that instead of finding the ball, he found the gun," he said, adding that Officer Dunne usually left the gun in his locker at work, but took it home after working late one night.

"Then he removed it from the shelf," Lieutenant Farrell said. "He may have been examining the gun out of some curiosity when it went off."

A single bullet entered the front of the boy's head and exited the rear, the police said. Tyler's mother ran to her son's side and dialed 911, initially believing he may have suffered a seizure, the police said.

Tyler was taken by ambulance to the hospital, in East Meadow, and was being treated yesterday in the pediatric intensive care unit, said Shelley Lotenberg, the director of public affairs at the hospital. "His condition is extremely critical," Ms. Lotenberg said.

Throughout Sunday night and all day yesterday, groups of people came to the hospital to see the boy and his family. Several uniformed officers from the Midtown North Precinct arrived. Visitors spoke quietly or remained silent. They stared at the floor and held one another near a bank of elevators outside the boy's room on the second floor.

Around the corner from the Dunne's home, on a dead-end street in Massapequa, Joe and Dina Capuana stood outside their house and praised the Dunne family. Tyler's mother runs a Bible study group from her home, said Ms. Capuana, 37. His father seemed always to be outside playing ball with him, said Mr. Capuana, 39.

Of Tyler, a fifth grader who is a year older than his son, Mr. Capuana said, "He's a really good boy."

Jovanna Salerno, 10, who attends the same elementary school as Tyler, said he was proud of his father. "He always used to say, 'My dad's a policeman,' " she said.
 
Very sad [sad]

I don't want to make assumption and I feel sorry for the officer involved, but I wonder if the kid had been taught to handle guns safely and respect them, and if he hadn't then maybe this could have been avoided.

Guns aren't things to hide and hope no-one finds them because they are dangerous and scary, any 10 year old kid will be curious about a gun so teach them about it so they wont be tempted to take it with premission to check it out or show it off to friends at school etc.
 
Yes, it's very sad. Tragic. Whether the child knew safe handling of firearms or not, he's a kid. The father should have known better than to leave a loaded firearm in the house where the kids had access.
That's a pretty big Cross to bear for the rest of your life.
 
That's terrible. I saw the story a day or two ago, but it just said that a Massapequa boy had accidentally shot himself. There wasn't any other information. I wonder if the delay in the story had something to do with it being a LEO's gun?
 
I have mixed feelings. For one, it's obvious he wasn't taught safe gun handling. I mean taught, like my father drilled it into us starting at age 5.

Then again, the kid was 13. That's old enough for common sense to tell you not to point a gun at your face.

Maybe instead of teaching "King and King" or "Little Black Book" in school, we should be having gun safety classes.

In English.
 
JonJ said:
Yes, it's very sad. Tragic. Whether the child knew safe handling of firearms or not, he's a kid. The father should have known better than to leave a loaded firearm in the house where the kids had access.
That's a pretty big Cross to bear for the rest of your life.

+1 it's terrible... [sad2] This should serve as a reminder for us who have kids how important it is to secure firearms, and also to educate our children on firearms saftey...
 
Marcus in the Darkus said:
No, he wasn't 13, he was 10. But that's still old enough to know not to point a gun at your own face if you had been trained properly, which this kid apparently hadn't.

Hey, don't hold my inability to read against me.

I'm from Maine.
 
It is sad......

but if it were an ordinary citizen, espesially in Mass, they's be in jail pending the outcome of the review and then they would probably still prosecute. Still, there is no good excuse to leave a firearm unattended.....loaded or unloaded.
 
daceman63 said:
but if it were an ordinary citizen, espesially in Mass, they's be in jail pending the outcome of the review and then they would probably still prosecute. Still, there is no good excuse to leave a firearm unattended.....loaded or unloaded.

Yes the DA would be all over it and someone would be going to jail and losing all of their guns.

ETA: Welcome to the board danceman63
 
Cross-X said:
"Then he removed it from the shelf," Lieutenant Farrell said. "He may have been examining the gun out of some curiosity when it went off."

A single bullet entered the front of the boy's head and exited the rear, the police said. Tyler's mother ran to her son's side and dialed 911, initially believing he may have suffered a seizure, the police said.

Tyler was taken by ambulance to the hospital, in East Meadow, and was being treated yesterday in the pediatric intensive care unit, said Shelley Lotenberg, the director of public affairs at the hospital. "His condition is extremely critical," Ms. Lotenberg said.

Throughout Sunday night and all day yesterday, groups of people came to the hospital to see the boy and his family. Several uniformed officers from the Midtown North Precinct arrived. Visitors spoke quietly or remained silent. They stared at the floor and held one another near a bank of elevators outside the boy's room on the second floor.

Around the corner from the Dunne's home, on a dead-end street in Massapequa, Joe and Dina Capuana stood outside their house and praised the Dunne family. Tyler's mother runs a Bible study group from her home, said Ms. Capuana, 37. His father seemed always to be outside playing ball with him, said Mr. Capuana, 39.

Of Tyler, a fifth grader who is a year older than his son, Mr. Capuana said, "He's a really good boy."

Jovanna Salerno, 10, who attends the same elementary school as Tyler, said he was proud of his father. "He always used to say, 'My dad's a policeman,' " she said.

With all due respect to the child and family ... the gun "went off"? Give me a break. Guns don't just "go off". Unless it's a Glock [rolleyes] without that horrendous NY or NY+ trigger assembly. <--- that's a joke .. I like Glocks.
 
Here's a far larger stinking pile than "the gun went off:"

"The police said the boy found the gun under some clothes on a closet shelf in the family's finished basement while looking for a small rubber ball."

BULL. What would "a small rubber ball" be doing "under some clothes on a closet shelf?" My hunch is that the kid went looking for Dad's unsecured gun - and found it.
 
Scrivener said:
BULL. What would "a small rubber ball" be doing "under some clothes on a closet shelf?" My hunch is that the kid went looking for Dad's unsecured gun - and found it.

Yep, they gotta make the kid look completely innocent and that the gun attacked him. [thinking]
 
The police said the boy found the gun under some clothes on a closet shelf in the family's finished basement while looking for a small rubber ball.

The kid's on life support - who told them what he was doing? If the sister didn't know what was going on, how does she know he was looking for a "small rubber ball"?
 
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