Indiana Dad Charged After Daughter, 4, Shoots Him by Accident

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A 4-year-old Indiana girl accidentally shot her father from the back seat of the family's car, and it's the dad who faces felony charges, prosecutors said Sunday.

David J. Paulson, 35, of Hamlet was free on $750 bond after he was arrested Sunday afternoon on charges including two felony counts of neglect of a dependent, according to Marshall County court records. Paulson was shot Jan. 31 when his daughter, who wasn't in a child restraint seat, pulled the loaded .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun from the pocket of her dad's overalls, according to a probable cause affidavit, prosecutors said. It went off and hit Paulson in his upper right arm.

County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman Jr. said in a statement that Paulson initially lied to investigators, telling them he accidentally fired the gun when he reached into the back seat for his overalls. When he was told that investigators had determined that that couldn't be true based on the trajectory of the bullet as indicated by his entry and exit wounds — along with the fact that his overalls didn't show any bullet hole at all — Paulson acknowledged that it was possible that his daughter shot him.

Chipman said he had a responsibility to charge Paulson to "maximize public safety in our own community," even though it was an accident and Paulson was OK. There has been a rash of incidents across the country where children have innocently gained access to loaded firearms and by clear accident discharged them severely wounding, and sometimes tragically killing, family members," he said.


— M. Alex Johnson