Charges reduced for Macon man accused of accidentally shooting a toddler

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The man accused of accidentally shooting a toddler while cleaning his gun in April had his charges downgraded.  On Tuesday, a grand jury has indicted Ronnie Howard with involuntary manslaughter.

Howard was originally charged with reckless conduct and cruelty to children after investigators say he accidentally shot and killed a two-year-old boy while cleaning his gun. A few days later, the sheriff’s office upgraded his charges to second degree murder.

Bibb Superior Court records say Howard handled a loaded handgun with conscious disregard and it caused the death of two-year-old Victor Carroll.  The shooting happened at a mobile home on Thomaston Road on April 30, 2015.  Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones says Carroll was shot in the head.  We’re told Howard and the boy’s mother drove the child to the hospital where he later died.

According to the incident report, Howard was cleaning a 9-mm highpoint semi-automatic handgun when it jammed.  Howard told investigators he stripped the magazine from the gun and racked the slide to release the bullet that was stuck in the chamber.  When he put the magazine back into the gun it fired.

The Bibb County jail website shows Howard is still in jail. He is being held without bond.

Hamp Dowling, the owner of Eagle Gun Range off Mercer University Drive, says the gun Howard was cleaning is not very expensive.  He add it’s important to make sure a gun is unloaded before cleaning.  He advises putting the bullets in another room so you don’t accidentally load it. He says it’s possible to clean a loaded gun, but not worth the risk.

“It would be ridiculously idiotic to do so, but you could. You couldn’t clean the barrel because in a semi-automatic pistol there would be a cartridge in the chamber so you couldn’t run a ram rod down the barrel,” explains Dowling.

Dowling’s first rule of gun safety is to always assume any gun is loaded.  He advises to keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot and to never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.

Dowling says a gun should be cleaned every 300-400 rounds.  The Eagle Gun Range offers cleaning services for 15-dollars.

Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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