Police located a suspect involved in the shooting of a toddler in Spanish Fork’s Leap Ahead Daycare on Monday, May 22.
The two-year-old boy was struck in the head by a stray bullet while playing in a fenced area.
The suspect, an adult male, was shooting birds with an 0.22 caliber air rifle in fields west of the daycare. He has reportedly been cooperating with the police.
According to the Spanish Fork Police Department, the boy was playing with several children when adults noticed him stumbling and bleeding from his face.
Believing the boy had tripped and hit his head, the teachers contacted his parents, who then took him to the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Scans from the hospital revealed a small caliber bullet lodged in the child’s head.
The boy was transferred to the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, and his condition has since been improving.
Lieutenant Cory Slaymaker assured Spanish Fork residents that despite the shocking nature of the incident, there is no continuing danger.
“This is an unexpected freak accident. It’s not like we feel like this is going to happen again, or anybody else is in danger,” Slaymaker said.
Chrissy Mugleston, the co-owner of the daycare, said they are praying for the boy.
“We … are heartbroken for the little boy that was injured and his family. Safety for the children and staff in our care has always been our number one priority,” Mugleston said.
Mugleston also expressed sympathy for the shooter.
“We are also praying for the shooter and his family. I am sure he had no idea that his bullet would travel as far as it did,” Mugleston said.
Mugleston praised the teachers for responding quickly to the injury and getting the boy to his mother.
Members of the wider Spanish Fork community have taken to Facebook to express support for the family.
Spanish Fork Mayor, Mike Mendenhall, also paid his respects to the family of the victim.
“All I can think of is the innocent child and his family … a tragic accident that I pray turns out okay for the child. As a dad of three myself I get emotional thinking about what happened,” Mayor Mendenhall said.
Reflecting on the incident, Lt. Slaymaker reminded people to handle firearms responsibly.
“Anytime anybody’s shooting any type of weapon they need to be aware of their surroundings and what’s behind in the direction of their shooting,” Lt. Slaymaker said.
The case remains ongoing, but once concluded, the Spanish Fork City prosecutor’s office will review potential charges.