A 12-year-old boy is believed to have been shot in the face by his mate at a farm in southwestern NSW after a bullet ricocheted from a rifle and hit him.
The boy had been visiting a friend’s home at Thuddungra near Young when his friend was asked to return a .22 rifle to the firearm safe.
It’s believed the gun then discharged, the bullet bouncing back to hit the unsuspecting boy in the face, police say.
Acting Superintendent Frank Brown from Cootamundra Local Area Command refused to rule out police laying charges over the incident, stressing that the police investigation was still in its early stages.
“We will thoroughly investigate the incident and if there is evidence to suggest prosecution should take place we will look at that,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s very early stages at this point … the incident that’s occurred last night has been quite stressful to all persons involved and the priority at that time was the welfare of the young children and to seek medical attention.”
Supt Brown agreed the boy was lucky to be alive and warned the public to treat firearms as if they were loaded at all times.
The firearm responsible for the boy’s injuries was registered, he said.
The bullet hit the left side of the boy’s face and travelled through his shoulder, leaving behind two entry and exit wounds, Young NSW Ambulance Inspector Stephen Pollard told Fairfax Media on Thursday.
The boy was immediately driven from the Thuddungra farm to be met by paramedics who took him to a hospital nearly 20km away.
He was then airlifted to The Children’s Hospital in Sydney with non-life-threatening injuries for specialist care.
Supt Brown said police had attempted to make contact with the injured boy’s family but had so far been unsuccessful.
“It is suggested they’re tied up with the young boy,” he told reporters.
A crime scene was established at the property after the incident.
The boy is the second child to be shot in NSW in the past month after a three-year-old girl died in her western Sydney home last month after accidentally being shot with her father’s unregistered sawn-off shotgun.