Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

February 18, 2011

Boy, 4, Fatally Shot While Playing With Handgun

FRANKLIN COUNTY — A 4-year-old son of a Franklin County Sheriff's deputy was killed Wednesday evening after an apparently accidental shooting involving a handgun.

According to Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houze, the Batesville Police Department received a 911 call shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday from the mother of Aiden Mehlbauer, 4, reporting a shooting at the home. Aiden's father, Greg Mehlbauer, was on duty with the Franklin County Sheriff's Department at the time of the shooting, Houze said.

According to initial findings of the investigation, which is being led by the ISP since the incident involves a county law officer, Aiden was at home with his twin brother, Mason, 4; a 6-year-old sister and his mother. Houze said the mother and young girl were upstairs working on homework while the two boys were playing in the basement at the home, which is located at 20140 Stacy Road between Peppertown and Metamora in Franklin County. Houze said there was an office under construction in the basement where Mehlbauer kept uniforms, boots and other tools and police equipment. The boys found a loaded 40 caliber Glock semi automatic handgun among the things in the framed room, he said. There was no trigger lock mechanism on the weapon, he noted, and it was not his duty firearm. Houze said the gun was either a personal weapon or an "off duty" issue from the department.

The Glock model has a slide mechanism that needs to be pulled in order to cock the gun and fire it. Houze said investigators did not believe the boys were strong enough to cock the weapon and "it appears a round was in the chamber." The boys were handling the weapon when it went off, hitting Aiden in the abdomen.

His mother quickly called 911 and his father rushed home in time to meet the medical helicopter. He accompanied Aiden in the chopper to Cincinnati Children's Hospital where the 4-year-old was pronounced dead just after 6:30 Wednesday evening, Houze said.

ISP detectives are still trying to determine how the weapon fired, he noted. It was unclear whether the boys were struggling over the weapon and dropped it, which caused it to fire, or one or the other pulled the trigger.

"They may never know what happened," Houze said. "Kids that age, it's hard to get an answer as to how things occurred."

The ISP is hoping an autopsy performed Thursday morning by the Hamilton County Corner's Office in Cincinnati will shed some light on the incident. Houze reported the results of the autopsy would take between eight and 12 weeks.

Houze said the ISP will continue to investigate the incident and will submit all information to the Franklin County Prosecutor's office to see if criminal negligence charges should be filed. The process could take up to six months. He noted these cases, while always tragic, are sometimes hard to criminally categorize.

"There's no law that says you have to have a trigger lock. There's no law that tells you where you have to keep your gun, but there are negligence laws and sometimes these things fit in there somewhere," Houze said speaking in general.

Incidents like these always bring a higher awareness of gun safety, he said, but when a law officer is involved, it doubles the feeling. Houze himself keeps a number weapons within his home and gun safety and education has always been a priority for himself and his children.

"It's one of those things that make you look at what you've done in the past," Houze said. "I have a 5-year-old grandson, and he loves to see papaw in his uniform and talk about my guns. I guarantee the next time I see him he and I are going to have a talk."

 

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