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Police: Boy, 6, fatally shot by brother in West Mifflin

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, 1:03 p.m.
Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough speaks about the shooting death of a 6-year-old West Mifflin boy Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. Julian Hoffman was home alone with his 10-year-old brother when the older boy got a hold of a loaded gun and shot the younger child in the head.
Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough speaks about the shooting death of a 6-year-old West Mifflin boy Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. Julian Hoffman was home alone with his 10-year-old brother when the older boy got a hold of a loaded gun and shot the younger child in the head.

A 10-year-old West Mifflin boy left at home alone with his younger brother got a hold of a loaded gun Wednesday morning and fatally shot the younger boy in the head, police said.

Julian Hoffman, 6, was pronounced dead just before 11 a.m. at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.

The shooting happened about 9:45 a.m. at a mobile home on Dover Lane, according to Allegheny County police. The boy was shot once in the head.

County police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said the children's mother was at work and her live-in boyfriend was not at home. He said investigators believe the mother left the children at home when she went to work Wednesday morning.

McDonough said the older child, whose name he did not release, called his mother and then 911. He said that, so far, there is no indication that the boy intended to harm his brother, though investigators are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

The handgun, a 9mm pistol, was purchased legally by the children's mother, McDonough said. The incident happened in the mother's bedroom. He said investigators will consult with the district attorney's office to determine whether charges will be filed against the mother, who McDonough also did not name.

He said the same is true regarding potential charges against the 10-year-old.

“The boy's 10 years old. By law, the child could be charged as a delinquent child ... but, again, the child's 10 years old,” he said.

McDonough said it's not clear whether the children are typically left home alone or if Wednesday was an anomaly.

“Every firearm should be treated as if it's loaded,” he said. “Every firearm should be secured with a gun lock ... there's really no excuse for a weapon to get in the hands of a child.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @meganguzaTrib.

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