Children were alone with guns when boy shot his sister. Now, the parents face charges.

James Collett
James Collett

After their son, 11, shot his 6-year-old sister in the head, Bell County parents were charged with endangering their children for allegedly leaving them unattended with loaded guns, police said.

Aaron Fredrick, a Kentucky State Police detective, arrested Jennifer Collett, 29, and James Collett, 30, on Thursday, according to a news release.

They were each charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment and three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, the release said.

Three children were at the couple’s house in the Hulan community when the shooting happened Feb. 20, police said.

The couple allegedly left the children alone while they went to a nearby store, police said.

There were several loaded guns in the house that were not secured to keep the children from getting them, police said.

The boy was playing with a gun when he accidentally shot his sister, police said.

The girl was flown to the hospital at the University of Tennessee and was initially listed in critical condition.

However, she has since been released from the hospital and is expected to recover, police said Thursday.

Police did not release the names of the children.

State Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, introduced a measure in the current legislative session that would make it a crime to leave guns unsecured around minors, but House Bill 31 has not advanced.

Wayne has said the Jan. 23 shooting at Marshall County High School, in which a 15-year-old student shot and killed two fellow students and wounded more than dozen others, should add urgency to the issue of limiting children’s access to guns.

It is rare in Kentucky for parents to be prosecuted after an accidental child shooting involving an unsecured firearm. At least 36 children were shot — 15 fatally — in the preceding five years in accidental shootings, the Herald-Leader reported last year.