Authorities have jailed the father of a 4-year-old South Jersey boy who was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot earlier this month.
Andrew Mack, a 31-year-old active duty member of the U.S. Navy, went to sleep with the loaded 9mm handgun next to him the night of Feb. 7, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said Wednesday.
Young Lincoln Mack picked up the gun and went into another room of their home in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township, about five miles from Fort Dix, to play with his sister, the prosecutor said.
He then pointed the weapon at himself and pulled the trigger, Coffina said.
Lincoln was rushed to the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.
His father was charged with child endangerment and a disorderly persons firearms offense for allowing a minor to gain access to a firearm, Coffina said.
Andrew Mack remained held in the Burlington County Jail pending a first appearance Thursday in Central Judicial Processing Court in Mount Holly, the prosecutor said.
“The death of Lincoln Mack was a tragedy, and it was made all the worse by the fact that it was entirely avoidable,” Coffina said.
Yet while authorities feel deep sympathy for “the Mack family and all of those who loved Lincoln,” he said, “the defendant must be held accountable for not securing his firearm.”
A gun violence protection group said the toddler’s death was believed to be the 21st accidental shooting of a child in the U.S. as of that date. Four victims died, the group Everytown reported.
A family friend who launched a GoFundMe to help defray expenses and provide for his brother and sister called Lincoln “the happiest 4-year-old you’ll ever see," a child who he said was “always smiling and happy."
“Lincoln loved his family, dogs, and fish,” the campaign says. “A sweet and happy little boy.”
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