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18-month-old girl killed in shooting at Florida home, police say

An 18-month-old toddler is dead after a shooting at a home in Palm Coast, Florida, police said.

The shooting was reported to police at 11:45 p.m. local time on Saturday, Sept. 3. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office tweetedthat there was a “frantic call” reporting that a baby had been shot at home on Palm Coast’s Ranwood Lane.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they found the girl with a gunshot wound to the head. Deputies attempted lifesaving measures, but the child was declared deceased upon arrival at AdventHealth Palm Coast, a local hospital, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said in a news conference Monday afternoon.

Staly said that there were eight people at the home at the time of the shooting. The child’s mother was among those present, Staly said, but the father was not. All persons in the home are being investigated, but have “not been totally cooperative,” Staly said.

One person, identified by Staly as C.J. Nelson Jr., has been arrested for violation of probation. Nelson, 22, had previously been arrested for a gun-related offense and was not allowed to be in possession of firearms as a condition of his probation, Staly said. He emphasized that Nelson “has not been charged with this death yet,” but later called him a “primary person of interest” in the investigation.

“It would be a lot easier if everybody would tell us the truth, and exactly what went on in that house,” Staly said. “We will get to the bottom of this and we will hold somebody accountable for the death of an 18-month-old child.”

Nelson was booked into the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Jail on a misdemeanor charge, according to records.

In the statement released Sunday, the sheriff’s office said the child’s death “may have been accidental.” Staly did not confirm if that was still believed to be the case on Monday, and said further information would be available after the medical examiner had completed their investigation. Later in the news conference, Staly said the child “did not touch the firearm” and called her an “innocent victim in this case.”

The sheriff described the weapon used in the shooting as an American tactical multi-caliber assault pistol. In the course of the investigation, police also found drugs inside the home, including 420 grams of marijuana and 11 grams of white powder that may be cocaine or heroin, Staly said.

Staly said police have visited the house twice this year, once for a report of a stolen vehicle and once for a 911 investigation.

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