A 3-year-old Illinois boy is dead after he found his father’s gun and shot himself in the head, police announced Friday morning, PEOPLE confirms.
According to a news release, Jeremiah Banks’s mother called 911 to report her child had been shot in their home in Waukegan, a Chicago suburb. Police arrived to find Jeremiah with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Authorities believe Jeremiah woke up just before 3 a.m. and went to his parents’ bedroom while his parents slept, where he found his father’s handgun on the dresser. He then went into the living with the 9mm semi-automatic weapon and shot himself in the head, officials tell PEOPLE.
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Jeremiah was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. He died of a single shot, the Lake County Coroner’s autopsy report showed.
Currently, no charges have been filed in the boy’s death, but authorities are meeting with the district attorney to review the case, according to police. Jeremiah’s parents, who have not been identified due to the pending review, are not in police custody.
Commander Joe Florip of the Waukegan Police Department described the scene as “horrific.”
“[These tragedies] really affect our entire community,” Florip says of the boy’s death. “From the first responders to the neighbors to the poor child who lost his life.”
The Department of Children and Family Services is investigating the family for allegations of neglect, DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa tells PEOPLE. The agency has had no prior contact with the family.
“This is a very sad story,” Resa says, urging parents to “child proof” their homes.
“Unfortunately, children die from a lot of different things in the home and it’s very important to make sure that parents keep an eye on their children at all times — especially when they have things like [a gun] in their house,” she adds.
Study: Accidental Gunshot Wounds Kill 1 Child Every 2 Days
According to a newly released study conducted by USA Today and the Associated Press, accidental gunshot wounds kill 1 child every two days. These deaths mostly occur in the child’s home with a firearm owned by a parent.
The most common age for children to die of accidental self-inflicted gunshot wounds is 3-years-old, the study reports.
No children other than Jeremiah were in the home at the time of the shooting, Resa says. Police found one other weapon in the home, a rifle, which Jeremiah’s father had a valid license for, according to the news release.
Neighbors described Jeremiah’s family as quiet and friendly.
“They are nice parents,” Genoveva Sajuan told the Chicago Tribune. “Sometimes I saw them play with the baby outside with a ball or his tricycle sometimes.”
“I can’t believe this happened,” Sajuan said. “I have a granddaughter that age and I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.