OAKLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- State police say the 8-year-old Oakland boy who was found dead in his home Tuesday night died from a gunshot wound to the head while handling his father's gun.
According to Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland, Parker Stevens was handling his father's 12 gauge shotgun inside his parents' closet on the second floor when the gun fired. His mother and three other younger children were downstairs and did not hear the shot, he said, and found Parker around 6 p.m. when she went to look for him.
Detectives said the shotgun had eight shotgun shells in the gun’s magazine tube, and Parker apparently racked one of those shells into the chamber before he fired the gun.
Parker is the son of Wade and Sara Stevens. The father was at work when the boy’s body was found he came home immediately.
Parker was going into the fourth grade at the Williams Elementary school in Oakland.
Even though it’s summertime, grief counselors have been made available at the school. Mental health professionals have already seen students, parents and staff.
Superintendent of schools Carl Gartley says in small-town Maine, schools are the center of the community and Parker‘s death has affected everyone.
Gartley says of Parker, “He’s a kid who touched everyone in the school. At the elementary level classes are self-contained, but everyone knew him. He was just a sweet boy.”
Gartley says Parker’s teachers and staff at the school are just devastated at the news. “It’s just absolutely destroyed us that this little boy is not with us.”
Neighbor Julie Plante who just recently got her hair cut by Parker’s mother Sara says she loved watching the kids playing outside.
“It’s really sad, it’s really scary, it breaks your heart. You just don’t think something like that would happen.”
Plante says, “Sara cares about her kids a lot and never meant for anything like this to happen. It’s just devastating.”
McCausland stresses these recommendations for parents who own guns with children in the home:
Guns should be unloaded and out of reach.
Ammunition and the weapons should be separated.
Gun locks and gun safes can be utilized for safe storage.
Most police departments in Maine have free trigger locks available.