The 8-year-old boy is currently helping Jacksonville Police with inquiries into how he came into possession of the firearm and discharged a single fatal bullet from the gun.
Police in Jacksonville say the three children had been left alone in an apartment for an “undetermined period of time” on Saturday, while their mother went to a local store.
Police believe the shooting at a Roosevelt Gardens apartment complex to be accidental but have not ruled out charges being filed.
“Our investigation revealed that at the time of the shooting, the only occupants inside the apartment were an 8-year-old boy, a 5-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy,” police chief Chris Butler said.
“The mother had left the apartment for an undetermined period of time, so the children were home alone.
“Somehow the 8-year-old boy got possession of a handgun and discharged the handgun one time, striking both of the other children.”
The bullet struck the five-year-old girl, killing her, while her four-year-old brother suffered a “non-life-threatening gunshot wound.” He is being treated at a local hospital, where doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
Witnesses to the incident are still being interviewed.
“We believe that as an agency, in absence of any other information being developed, that unfortunately this is a tragic, accidental shooting,” Butler said.
He said there was nothing to indicate that the shooting was intentional.
The Florida Department of Children and Families, which offers child welfare services, is assisting with the case. Meanwhile, a therapist has been provided to the 8-year-old boy who fired the weapon.
Speaking at a police press conference, Butler said charges have not been filed against anyone “at this time” and admitted he was reluctant to comment on an active investigation.
However, he said that previous cases involving violence carried out by children have seen the parents charged.