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Georgia man accidentally shot dead by toddler who found gun, police say

Dustin Walters, 25, was shot on Dec. 5 in Savannah, Georgia. Police determined that he was wounded after a young child found and fired a handgun.

Police say the fatal shooting of a Georgia man earlier this month was accidental after a toddler found a handgun and fired it.

Dustin Walters, 25, was shot on Dec. 5 in Savannah, Georgia. The Savannah Police Department said officers responded to the incident at around 5:30 p.m. that day over reports of a shooting and found Walters injured.

He was transported to Memorial Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. 

In a statement Tuesday, the Savannah Police Department said the shooting was accidental after it was determined that Walters was wounded when a toddler, under the age of 2, "found and fired the handgun," striking him.

Police did not specify the relationship between Walters and the child.

“As a parent, I cannot imagine what this family is going through or will continue to go through in the coming years," Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said.

"What we want to make sure now is that parents are aware that although rare, these incidents can happen with tragic results," Minter said. "Please take this seriously and take the steps to ensure that you and your family members are safe.”

So far this year, there have been at least 330 unintentional shootings by children in the U.S., resulting in 135 deaths and 212 injuries, according to a count by Everytown for Gun Safety.

Officials asked the public to ensure that firearms in homes are securely stored and not accessible to children. 

“If your child is old enough, have a conversation about the dangers of firearms and advise the child to never touch a firearm,” the Savannah Police Department said.

The police department offers free gun locks to the public that can be picked up from any precinct location.