WATERVILLE — The condition of a 2-year-old boy who was shot in the head Saturday morning at his house on Western Avenue in Waterville was unclear late Monday afternoon after police and a hospital official declined to release updated information.

The boy, apparently shot by a sibling, was listed in critical condition Sunday at Maine Medical Center in Portland, according to Maine State Police, who are helping Waterville police with the investigation.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Katharine England, social media coordinator for the State Police, said, “I don’t have that information.”

A man holds his face in his hands Saturday at the scene of a shooting at 92 Western Ave. in Waterville. Police confirmed Saturday evening there had been a shooting at the house. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Asked what type of gun was used in the shooting, England said the matter was still being investigated so police were not releasing further details, including information on the firearm.

A news release England issued Sunday from Maine State Police Major Crimes — Central reported one of the three siblings living at the house at 92 Western Ave. “found the gun that was secured in a closet, loaded it, and a round was fired.”

Asked Monday how a child was able to come into possession of a secured gun, England said she was “not able to elaborate on that.”

Chief Joseph Massey of the Waterville Police Department declined Monday to answer the same questions posed to England, instead referring questions to the State Police.

“Since the State Police is the agency that released the information you are inquiring about, I would recommend contacting them,” Massey wrote in an email.

Contacted by telephone at about 3 p.m. Monday for information on the shooting victim’s condition, a Maine Medical Center spokeswoman said she “had no information on a patient by that name.”

While police have not released the victim’s name or those of his parents and siblings, a GoFundMe page set up for the family identifies the young victim as Evan Hood.

A total of $4,265 had been raised for the Hood family by early afternoon Monday as part of the GoFundMe effort seeking to raise $10,000. The page, organized by Kristina Blaney, reads:

“Cori and Dan Hood are facing every parent’s absolute worst fear. Their youngest baby, Evan has been shot. While he made it through surgery, there is still a very long road ahead for all of them. Evan is in Portland in the Critical Care Unit, and they will be traveling back and forth to be with him, while also trying to keep as normal of a routine as possible for their older two sons, Austin and Benjamin. This was a tragic accident and one no parent wants to face. Medical bills and expenses will pile up quickly, any help is a blessing! Halfpints Daycare and Preschool is also taking donations of food, money, etc to help the family when they come home from the hospital!”

The GoFundMe information was sent, unsolicited, to the Morning Sentinel on Monday by Madison Jones, spokesperson for GoFundMe North East Region.

England’s news release Sunday afternoon detailed the report of the shooting and what occurred afterward. Waterville police received a 911 call at 11:52 a.m. Saturday about the shooting, according to England.

“Waterville Police responded and were later assisted by Maine State Police Major Crimes — Central,” England wrote in the release. “A 2-year-old male was initially transported to Thayer Hospital in Waterville with a gunshot wound to the head. He was later transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland. He is listed in critical condition at this time.

“Investigation revealed one of the three siblings living in the home found the gun that was secured in a closet, loaded it, and a round was fired. Police continue to investigate the incident and monitor the status of the juvenile.”

Waterville police detectives and those from Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit continued to investigate the shooting Sunday, according to England.

On Saturday, Waterville police went to the house at 92 Western Ave. and spent the day there, speaking with witnesses and gathering evidence.

A police officer spent much of the afternoon supervising two young boys in a cruiser parked in the driveway of the home. Daniel and Cori Hood own the home, according to Waterville’s tax database.

Police who responded to the scene, including Massey, said they could not comment on the investigation. The State Police Major Crimes mobile unit was at the scene until after 7 p.m. Saturday.

Contacted on Monday, Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, said the shooting of the 2-year-old boy was preventable. If a child was able to access and load the gun, that gun was not “secured” in a closet, according to Bickford.

“It is, by definition, not secured if that happened,” Bickford said in a telephone interview. “Because of the lethality of a gun and there’s no return from a gunshot — because of the enormity of that — you, as a parent or gun owner, have to be 12 steps ahead of where your child is on this issue.”

A 2-year-old boy was in critical condition Sunday after being shot in the head Saturday, allegedly by a sibling, at this house at 92 Western Ave. in Waterville. The home is shown as traffic passes Monday evening. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Bickford said he and the Gun Safety Coalition hope and pray for the boy’s recovery and the well-being of the siblings involved in the traumatic event.

But thoughts and prayers in such situations aren’t enough, according to Bickford.

“You need action. You need change because this continues to happen,” he said. “This is a field that is so ripe for change. This is absolutely preventable and avoidable. No responsible gun owner would allow access in this manner.”

Bickford said a child’s being able to get into a closet and obtain and load a gun shows the child had a familiarity with the firearm, and that means a parent or gun owner has more of a duty to secure it.

Securing a gun is simple and can be done by putting a trigger lock on it, he said. The Gun Coalition will send trigger locks overnight, free of charge, to people who request them, if they email [email protected]

“Our perspective is: If you want a firearm, that’s fine,” Bickford said. “Just keep it secured.”

He said his organization has sent out 25,000 trigger locks.

It is also important, he said, to keep ammunition separate from firearms, and both should be secured in locked places with the keys placed where children cannot get them. The best place is a gun safe, he said, but such safes can be costly and some people say they need easier and quicker access to their firearms.

In that case, a trigger lock or cable lock, which are inexpensive and easy to use, are options, according to Bickford.

“Talk to any responsible gun owner and they say there’s no way this should have happened,” he said of the shooting. “It’s not about the gun, about the firearms. This is about taking the very, very basic and effective precautions to secure those guns. It’s about parental responsibility.”

The Gun Safety Coalition supports a bill before the Maine Legislature that would amend the child endangerment law to include a provision that, if a gun owner leaves a firearm loaded and accessible to a child and the child discharges it, it is considered under the child endangerment law. Having that law on the books would show such behavior is unacceptable, he said.

The Gun Safety Coalition reports more than half the homes in Maine have at least one gun, so many children are living with firearms.

The group’s website offers the following advice for parents regarding firearms:

• Never keep loaded guns in your home.

• Always store your gun with a trigger lock and in a locked cabinet.

• Lock and store bullets in a separate location from guns.

• Keep guns out of sight and reach of children.

• Make sure cabinet/gun lock keys are inaccessible to children.

• Ask if there are unlocked guns in play-date homes before your children go to play.

• Educate your children to treat all firearms as loaded and dangerous.

• Tell kids that when they see a gun, they should STOP, don’t touch, leave the area quickly and calmly, and tell an adult right away.

• If your child or anyone in your home is known to be suicidal, remove all guns from your home.

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