A 4-year-old boy, observing the men around him who were target shooting, picked up a rifle and fatally shot his uncle in a rural area of northeastern South Dakota, authorities said Saturday.
The accidental shooting death occurred late Monday near an abandoned bridge about 10 miles north of Aberdeen, killing 22-year-old Eh Thon Gar, according to Brown County Medical Examiner Michael Carlsen.
Gar, of Aberdeen, was shot in the abdomen and died the next day at Avera St. Luke's Hospital, leaving behind a wife and daughter.
"They underestimated the 4-year-old's willingness to emulate adults," Carlsen said Saturday.
Gar, a cousin and a friend were target shooting with .22-caliber rifles and had with them the 4-year-old and a 1-year-old, Carlsen said.
It's "not uncommon [and is] perfectly legal" for people to find an isolated spot in South Dakota and informally target practice, Carlsen said.
Services for Gar were Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Aberdeen. Gar was born in Thailand and moved to Salt Lake City in 2011 with his family. He moved to South Dakota last year.