5-year-old Leimert Park boy who shot himself may have found security guard's weapon

LEIMERT PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The gun that a 5-year-old boy found and fired at himself may have been legally owned by an adult in the household who worked as a security guard, according to a frequent visitor at the Leimert Park home.

The child died of a self-inflicted wound in what the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating as an unintentional shooting.

According to friends and family members, the 5-year-old named Justice was under county Department of Children and Family Services supervision, as were his four siblings.

All have lived at the home since they were babies because their birth mother was unable to care for them.

The children's guardian, a friend of the birth mother described as "the mother of the neighborhood," has been trying to adopt the children.

The guardian's boyfriend tells Eyewitness News that his adult son is a security guard who is licensed to carry a weapon. Malcom Burdette says that the gun had been stowed on a closet shelf and that detectives have interviewed him.

LAPD has not confirmed that the security guard's weapon was the one found by the boy.

"We're still putting pieces of the puzzle together, " said LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein.

The death comes as gun safety advocates have stepped up measures to inform adults about securing weapons to prevent deaths and injuries of children.

"It is so, so preventable. It is 100% preventable," says Loren Lieb with Women Against Gun Violence, which has pushed schools to get involved in a safety campaign.

The LAUSD school board responded. This year students were sent home with paperwork that explained gun storage laws and required a parent or guardian's confirmation that they read it.

City Attorney Mike Feuer has prosecuted 43 cases in which a gun owner failed to lock up a weapon.

The county Department of Children and Family Services says that a guardian may keep a gun in the household but it must be shown to be locked with the ammunition stored in a separate location.

Porsha Neal, whose 3-year old son played with Justice, fought tears as she tried to explain the death.

"It was just sad yesterday to see my son over here and I can't explain to my 3-year-old son that his buddy isn't here anymore."
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.