The child stuck the gun out of a car window as police arrested his father, who had brandished his gun at McDonald’s workers over an incorrect order on Monday, police said.
An officer spotted the gun and instinctively swiped it away, sending the shot into the side of the building, said Sgt. Melody Cutler with Unified Police of Greater Salt Lake. The officer also yelled “kid” to alert his fellow officers that the person with the weapon was a child.
Both the boy and a 3-year-old sibling were taken into the care of child-welfare workers and will be interviewed as part of the investigation. Their father, a 27-year-old recent transplant from Georgia, is being held without bail on suspicion of felony child abuse and threat with a deadly weapon.
He told police he “blacked out” and did not remember brandishing the gun or racking around at the McDonald’s employees at the drive-thru window, according to a jail booking statement.
He also acknowledged that “this was not the first time his son had gotten ahold of his gun,” investigators wrote. The documents did not elaborate on how the child had gotten the weapon before, or contain additional detail on an allegation that the father told the boy to fire at police.
The Associated Press is not identifying the father to avoid identifying the son. No attorney was immediately listed for him in court records.
The officer suffered minor injuries to his arm, but the incident is the kind that “shakes you to the core,” Cutler said. “I can say every officer on our team yesterday was quite emotional,” she said. “Very luckily, that didn’t turn out to be a horrible tragedy.”
By Lindsay Whitehurst