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Boy shot to death outside Mercer County gun store

| Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, 12:10 p.m.
State police stand outside a truck where a 7-year-old boy was shot to death around 11 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of a Mercer County gun store. State police said Joseph V. Loughrey, 44, of Sharpsville, apparently accidentally shot his son, Craig Loughrey, as he was placing a handgun in the truck outside Trig’s Reloading Den in East Lackawannock. Police said Loughery didn’t realize there was a round in the gun’s chamber. Bill Vidonic | Tribune-Review

A 7-year-old boy died on Saturday when he was shot by his father in an apparent accident outside a Mercer County gun shop, state police said.

Joseph V. Loughrey, 44, was getting into his truck holding a .9mm Taurus handgun when it discharged. The bullet struck his son, Craig Allen Loughrey, 7, in the chest, state police said. The boy died at the scene.

“I know that little kid was everything to him,” said Mark McLaughlin of Fredonia, a friend and co-worker of Loughrey's at Superior Well Services in Fredonia.

State police said Loughrey told them he had emptied the magazine of the gun, but had no idea a bullet was still in the chamber.

“This happens all too often where people think the gun was empty,” said state police Lt. Eric Hermick.

State police questioned Loughrey at the Mercer barracks, describing him as very cooperative and very distraught. Leaving the barracks about 2:30 p.m., he declined comment to a reporter.

Officers are reviewing surveillance video from the gun shop. While authorities are investigating the shooting as an accident, Loughrey could face charges, including manslaughter and negligence, Hermick said.

The shooting occurred at 10:54 a.m. outside Twigs Reloading Den, 8388 Sharon-Mercer Road in East Lackawannock, officials said.

“There was a single shot, and then the police came,” said Nicole Howard, whose family owns Howard & Son Meatpacking, which is next door to the gun store.

Loughrey was trying to sell two guns at Twiggs — one a scope rifle and the other, the handgun, state police said. The shop owner was not interested and Loughrey and his son returned to the truck. Loughrey put the boy in a booster seat on the passenger side, state police said, and he loaded the long rifle into the truck. He was attempting to get inside and reached to put the handgun in the center storage console when it fired, state police said.

Hermick said Loughrey and the child's mother were divorced, and Loughrey had custody on the weekend. The child's mother could not be reached for comment.

Neighbors said the family kept to themselves.

“He was a wonderful little kid. He was special. He was full of life, a lot of fun,” McLaughlin said.

Staff writer Rick Wills contributed to this report. Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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