EAST LACKAWANNOCK TOWNSHIP —
A Mercer County man shot and killed his 7-year-old son in what police say was an accident in the parking lot of an East Lackawannock Township gun store.
Craig Allen Loughrey died in the parking lot of Twig’s Re-Loading Den, 8388 Sharon-Mercer Road.
His father, Joseph V. Loughrey, 44, of Jefferson Township, had taken Craig to Twig’s where Loughrey was trying to sell some guns, state police Lt. Eric Hermick said.
They had left the store and Craig was buckled into a booster seat in his father’s four-by-four Chevrolet 1500 pickup.
“Dad was getting the gun in the console and the gun was discharged,” Hermick said. “At face value, it appears it was an accident.”
Investigators said Loughrey told them the magazine was empty but he didn’t realize there was a bullet still in the chamber.
“This happens all too often where people think the gun was empty,” Hermick noted.
Mercer County Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle was awaiting autopsy results before issuing a ruling.
Loughrey and the boy’s mother are divorced and this was Craig’s father’s weekend for visitation.
Craig’s address was listed as Fredonia in a state police news release. Attempts to reach his mother were unsuccessful.
Loughrey also couldn’t be reached for comment.
“He called 911,” after the shooting, Hermick said, adding it also was reported by a Twig’s employee who had heard the shot.
Loughrey, who was distraught, pulled the truck from a parking spot in front of the store after the shooting in an attempt to get to a hospital, then realized he needed paramedics, Hermick said.
Emergency crews worked unsuccessfully to revive the child.
Twig’s surveillance cameras captured the events, and police had watched it several times to determine what happened, Hermick said.
“All evidence at this point would suggest that this incident is accidental,” state police said in a news release.
Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems spent time at the scene Saturday and was among the investigators who reviewed the video.
It’s “still heavily under investigation,” Kochems said.
It wasn’t known if Loughrey had a conceal/carry permit for the Taurus 9 mm handgun.
It’s the type of weapon used for protection and as such they’re often carried loaded.
“People who worry about personal protection and have a permit, I’m sure, carry their gun loaded,” Kochems said.
Transporting such a gun without a proper permit could be a third-degree felony or a first-degree misdemeanor, he said, depending on the circumstances.