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Josephine Fanning, Tennessee Deputy’s Wife, Accidentally Shot Dead by 4-Year-Old Nephew

A 4-year-old boy shot and killed the wife of a Tennessee sheriff’s deputy on Saturday after the child found and accidentally fired a loaded handgun.

The Tennesseean reports that 48-year-old Josephine Fanning was shot dead at her home in Lebanon, Wilson County during a family cookout. Fanning was the wife of Wilson County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Fanning, 51. Deputy Fanning and another relative were reportedly looking at guns in a bedroom of the home when the couple’s 4-year-old nephew entered the room and found a loaded gun lying on the bed. The weapon discharged after the child picked it up, striking and killing Josephine.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) spokeswoman Kristin Helm told reporters that alcohol was present at the gathering and that Deputy Fanning was not on duty at the time of the incident. Helms said that the handgun used to kill Fanning was not the deputy’s service weapon, but rather a personal firearm.

In an email to Nashville’s News 2, Deputy Fanning said:

I would like the viewers to know that officers of Wilson County do not make a habit of leaving loaded guns simply lying around. The door to the room the accident happend in stays locked unless we were sleeping or we were in it. This was the only loaded gun in the house other than my duty weapon, which was locked away. This was my off-duty weapon that I had set down only seconds before the tragedy. Please keep the children and family of Josie in your prayers.

“It’s a sad, sad set of circumstances,” Sheriff Robert Bryan told WSMV. “Nobody is immune to this– nobody,” Bryan continued. “It doesn’t matter if you are a law enforcement officer. These things can happen in seconds.”

Indeed, last December, a 3-year-old Oklahoma boy named Ryder Rozier shot and killed himself with a gun he found in the home of his uncle, a state policeman.

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