WAXHAW, NC (WBTV) - A Waxhaw police officer was charged Friday after his son reportedly got ahold of his father's gun and accidentally shot his mother in Union County.
Officer Jeremy Ferguson is charged with failure to properly store firearms to protect a minor. The charge is a misdemeanor.
The shooting happened Wednesday night at the officer's home along Bigham Road, Tony Underwood with the Union County Sheriff's Office said.
"What happened last night is a prime example - it only takes a second or two for a child to be able to gain access to a gun if it's accessible," Underwood said Thursday. "In this case it was on the child's level on the floor. It's a reminder that children are smarter sometimes than we give them credit for being."
Underwood said Ferguson's 2-year-old son reportedly got his father's off-duty gun and fired a shot. The boy's 30-year-old mother was shot one time in her backside. She is expected to be OK, and has since been released from the hospital.
Investigators said the gun was inside a bag Ferguson brought in after work and placed on the floor.
"It was zipped up and the child apparently unzipped the bag and found the handgun," Underwood said.
Waxhaw Police Chief Mike Eiss said Ferguson has been placed on administrative leave with pay while the department holds an internal investigation.
State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the case. Interviews have taken place, including talking to the 2-year-old boy. WBTV was told the investigation should not take long.
Some law enforcement leaders are asking how could this have happened.
"Through the firearms training that all law enforcement goes through, it's extensive training, but first and foremost safety - not only handling the weapon ourselves but also storage of that weapon - we're drilled in that," Underwood said. "So you question, how did this child gain access to it? Especially a 2-year-old."
Officer Ferguson has been with the Waxhaw Police Department for about a year. There is no word if or when Ferguson will return to the force.