Metro

8-year-old boy fatally shoots himself while handling father’s gun in Maine

In a horrific tragedy, an 8-year-old boy in the town of Oakland, Maine, fatally shot himself Tuesday night while handling his father’s shotgun in the family home, while his mother and siblings were downstairs, authorities said.

Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, identified the child in a statement Wednesday as Parker Stevens, who was scheduled to begin fourth grade at Williams Elementary School in Oakland in the fall.

McCausland said the state medical examiner’s office determined that Parker died from a gunshot wound to the head. He had been handling his father’s 12-gauge shotgun inside a closet of his parents’ second-floor bedroom when the gun went off, McCausland said.

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“Parker was found by his mother when she went to look for him about 6 p.m.,” McCausland wrote. “She and her three other younger children were on the first floor of the house, located on Church Street, and did not hear the shot. Parker is the son of Wade and Sara Stevens. The father was at work when the boy’s body was found and came home immediately.”

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According to McCausland, detectives said the Mossberg shotgun had eight shells in the magazine tube and Parker “apparently racked one of those shells into the chamber before he fired the gun.”

McCausland said in a follow-up message that a child in Maine is killed by a gun they were handling about once a year.

“There will be no charges filed,” McCausland said, adding that the shooting “likely took place about an hour or so before” Parker’s mother discovered him.

McCausland also provided safety suggestions from State Police for parents who own guns with children in the home.

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The suggestions include keeping guns unloaded and out of reach, keeping ammunition and firearms separate, and using gun locks and gun safes for “safe storage.”

Andres Picon can be reached at andres.picon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andpicon. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.