An Indiana man opened the front door of his family’s apartment, then shut it almost immediately.
Outside, a small child was holding a gun.
The child had moved his arm to point the firearm toward the man, the witness told police when they responded on Saturday. The man closed the door and instructed his parents, who were also inside the apartment, to move away from the entryway.
The Beech Grove, Ind., family called the police, leading officers to search the apartment where the 4-year-old lived. And the entire incident was captured on camera during an episode of “On Patrol: Live,” a show that follows police departments across the country.
On Saturday, Beech Grove police arrested the child’s father, Shane Osborne, 45, on a charge of neglect of a dependent. The episode, which showed footage of the child waving the gun around and pulling the trigger, brought fuel to an already heated national conversation about children’s access to firearms after a 6-year-old shot his teacher at a Virginia elementary school earlier this month.
The child in Beech Grove was released to his mother, police said. Attempts to reach Osborne late Monday were unsuccessful.
Beech Grove is one of eight police departments featured “On Patrol: Live,” which airs Fridays and Saturdays on the network REELZ. Footage of the incident begins with Beech Grove police Sgt. Zach Horgan speaking with the family who made the 911 call.
Then, Horgan and three other Beech Grove officers entered the apartment where the boy lived.
“Well, we’re here because the downstairs neighbors said they saw your son running around with something they thought was a silver handgun,” one of the officers said to a man in the apartment.
He responded: “We don’t have a silver handgun.”
“No? Not even like a toy one?” the officer probed.
Osborne told the officers that he had been feeling sick and didn’t even know that his son had been outside the apartment, police said.
The officers were making their way out of the apartment complex when another neighbor showed them security-camera footage from outside their unit.
The footage, featured later in the “On Patrol: Live” episode, shows the child sitting on the stairs with the gun and pulling the trigger multiple times.The weapon did not fire, but police said in the episode that the firearm was loaded.
After seeing the footage, police went to the boy’s apartment a second time. The man again said he did not have a gun but conceded that a cousin might have had one inside the apartment.
With his permission, the Beech Grove officers conducted a search of the unit and said they found a 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun in a desk. As of Monday, it was unclear whether the firearm was registered to Osborne.
Indiana residents are not required by law to register firearms. The database police normally use to check registrations was not available on Saturday evening, Beech Grove Deputy Police Chief Robert Mercuri told The Washington Post.
Indiana also does not have a state law that requires gun owners to lock their firearms. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that supports gun control, the state has “some of the weakest” gun laws in the country.
Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley (D) said in a statement to WTHR that he was “mortified” by the incident and thankful no one was hurt.
“I ask that the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office work tirelessly to secure charges and a conviction against the responsible parties, with maximum penalties,” he said. “Society shouldn’t accept anything less.”
The neglect charge that Osborne faces isn’t specifically related to firearms but applies more broadly to any household items that could endanger a child, said Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.
“We don’t have such laws for car keys, either,” Volokh said. “Nonetheless, if indeed a child gets hold of the car keys and starts driving the car — because presumably he hasn’t been probably taught not to do that, hasn’t been probably taught to respect this very dangerous device — then in that case, that could very well be child endangerment.”
Osborne is set to appear in court Tuesday afternoon, police said. In Indiana, neglect of a dependent is a class 6 felony.If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.