A man shooting birds in suburban Utah with a .22-caliber air rifle is a person of interest for wounding a toddler in the head outside a day care center this week, authorities said Wednesday.
The two-year-old child is recovering in a Salt Lake City hospital.
The man is cooperating with investigators and won’t be named unless prosecutors decide to file charges against him, the Spanish Fork Police Department said.
Regardless, authorities have already said that they believe the shooting to be an accident.
‘We do not believe that this was a targeted incident,’ Lt. Cory Slaymaker told KSL-TV in the immediate aftermath. ‘We feel like this was more of an accident, and the person that probably did it doesn’t even know that they did it.’
A man shooting birds in suburban Utah with a .22-caliber air rifle is a person of interest for wounding a toddler in the head outside a day care center this week, authorities said Wednesday
Police confirmed there was no apparent malicious intent in a press release.
‘Detectives are continuing to investigate where the bullet may have been shot from and why,’ Spanish Fork police said in a statement Tuesday.
‘It appears this was a tragic accident. Open fields are directly west of the daycare and it is believed the round may have come from that area.’
The boy was playing outside at Leap Ahead Daycare’s Spanish Fork facility, about 52 miles south of Salt Lake City, when employees noticed him stumbling and bleeding from the head on Monday afternoon.
‘Initially, we thought he just had tripped and hit his head,’ said Lane Mugleston, who owns the daycare with his wife.
Although nobody heard shots fired, the suspected air gun pellet left a hole in the vinyl fence wrapping the day care´s outdoor play area, suggesting it came from farm fields across the street, Mugleston said Tuesday.
Employees called the child’s parents who took him to the hospital.
‘The doctors are monitoring him, and they said that his vitals are good and expect a full recovery,’ Mugleston added. ‘So they think that that’s a blessing.’
Lane Mugleston, the owner of Leap Ahead Daycare, points to a bullet hole as he speaks to reporters Tuesday
Lane Mugleston (pictured), who owns the daycare with his wife, initially believed the shooting victim had tripped and fell
A farming field across the street west of the Leap Ahead Daycare facility
Doctors found what looked like a bullet lodged in the child’s head and transported him to a larger Salt Lake City hospital.
Mugleston noted that, due to the day care’s location near an airport, it’s often hard to hear things.
He said he was still in a state of disbelief over the episode and had notified all clients of the day care.
‘I still feel like I’m in shock,’ he said. ‘We are absolutely surprised. We are dumbfounded that this would happen in Spanish Fork.’
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