The Delaware State Police this week were continuing to investigate an incident in which a 2-year-old child was believed to have been accidentally shot by her father at their home just outside of Ocean View over the weekend.
Around 1 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30, police said, emergency services were dispatched to a home located on Muddy Neck Road, following a 911 call stating a child had been shot.
Local police from Ocean View, Bethany Beach and South Bethany all responded to the call, and it was determined that the father of the girl had allegedly shot his 2-year-old daughter in the left leg while he was showing his wife a gun he had just borrowed.
“It’s just a tragedy,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin of the incident, noting the child sustained a “traumatic wound.”
The closest agency, Ocean View Police Department, was first on the scene with their K9 team and another officer. Law enforcement was able to secure the home and took Jenkins into custody without incident.
According to the DSP, a burglary report had been taken around 9 p.m. on Saturday evening from Jenkins and his wife, in which he reported that his shotgun and some cash had been stolen from their house.
After troopers departed the home, Jenkins reportedly left and went to a friend’s home, where he obtained a .40 caliber handgun, which McLaughlin said is, “probably the most popular caliber for law-enforcement agencies.”
He reportedly returned to the residence around 1 a.m. and, upon entering, his wife woke up from sleeping on the floor in the living room.
According to police, the couple’s three children — two girls, ages 2 and 6, and their 10-year-old son — were all asleep on a sofa nearby when Jenkins sat on the floor next to his wife to show her the gun.
As Jenkins pulled back on the slide of the gun and let it go, police said, a bullet fired and struck the 2-year-old in the leg.
The mother immediately contacted 911, and EMS and Delaware State Police Aviation’s Trooper 2 arrived to transport the young girl to A.I. DuPont Hospital, where she was being treated for the wound this week.
“We’re lucky we have a trauma center like A.I. DuPont, that specializes in injuries to children, relatively close, especially by helicopter,” said McLaughlin.
“It was another example of a multi-jurisdictional response to a critical incident,” he added. “The helicopter just happened to be nearby. I’ve been there for a chase in the Georgetown area, and they were able to quickly divert. They were here literally in minutes… Because a lot of the safety regulations, it’s not unusual for the helicopter to be down just due to weather conditions.
“The paramedics recently relocated to Beaver Dam Road, which is right around the corner, so their response was expedited. Millville paramedics, the minute they got the word, they were in the ambulance and on the road.”
McLaughlin said that Millville Volunteer Fire Company paramedics arrived on the scene so early that they were able to stage their response before getting the police go-ahead to enter the home.
“I was told they only had to wait two or three minutes before they got the green light to go ahead and go, go, go,” he said. “It was a big group effort. The moon and the stars were truly aligned, because that was a very, very serious injury to the baby.”
McLaughlin said he was thankful his officers had good training and were able to respond promptly and efficiently to the emergency call.
“We get beat up for the amount of training we do, but you never know where you’re going to be,” he explained. “It turned out this time it was OK. We did the Tactical Combat Casualty Care training, and lo and behold we’re using that training. We weren’t expecting to use it on a 2-year-old, but we’re using it. The same with the tactical training with the dog. We have an incident over there — we have a guy and a gun, and someone’s shot. People don’t understand there’s stress going into a scene like that.”
As to homeowner gun safety, McLaughlin said, “Obviously, some safety protocols were violated.”
“Firearms are very dangerous in untrained hands,” said OVPD Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw.
“One of the tenets of firearm safety is ‘Don’t point your gun at anything you aren’t willing to shoot,’” he said. “Even if there’s an accidental discharge, if it’s pointed in a safe direction, worst-case scenario, it’s a hole in the ceiling or a hole in the floor. You can patch a hole.”
Jenkins was charged with Assault 1st, a Class B felony, (punishable by two to 25 years in prison), Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony and three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in lieu of $41,500 secured bond.
An official update on the child’s condition could not be obtained before Coastal Point’s Wednesday press deadline.