‘This was a tragic accident': Chief says 8-year-old boy was fatally shot when children played with gun

‘This was a tragic accident': Chief says 8-year-old boy was fatally shot when children played with gun
Chance Gilbert (Source: Provided by family)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - An 8-year-old boy was fatally shot in Mt. Airy earlier this month when children played with a gun in what is considered a “tragic accident,” Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said Wednesday.

The chief’s remarks about the death of Chance Gilbert came during Cincinnati City Council’s Law & Public Safety Committee meeting.

“This is a true tragedy for that family,” Isaac said. "The investigation is continuing, but what I can update this morning is that we have taken this to the (Hamilton County) prosecutor’s office and prosecution has been declined. What we know at this point is we have children in the home playing with a firearm and young Mr. Gilbert lost his life.

“This is not something that occurred on the street, this is not a street crime...This was a tragic accident inside the home.”

The chief said an investigation remains ongoing, so he wasn’t able to say much more, including if police know yet who owns the gun.

The third-grader was found dead in the 4800 block of Hawaiian Terrace just before 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, police have said.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Chance and a 9-year-old boy were playing with the gun when the 9-year-old pulled the trigger, accidentally killing Chance.

“The only one in this whole investigation really who has shown courage and told the truth was the young boy who shot the other,” Deters said. “I think that’s pathetic... The irony of this entire thing is there are adults who know whose gun this was, where it went after the boy was shot. It disappeared. The gun that was used disappeared. There were people that knew what happened and covered for each other.”

Deters said he met with the 9-year-old and believes he did not know it was loaded. Authorities believe an adult left the gun out.

"He was the only one that was honest, and that’s pathetic,” Deters said. “Knowing he was the only one who demonstrated courage is disturbing.”

He also said there is a possibility Chance was shot outside and his body was moved inside of the home.

“I’m not telling you this thing is over by a long shot,” Deters said. “There are adults involved in this thing. There are people who knew what happened and covering for each other. The only one who has shown any courage in telling the truth is the boy who pulled the trigger.”

Until Wednesday, police had released few details about the case amid the investigation, prompting Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman to ask the chief for an update.

Isaac already was on Wednesday’s agenda to provide council members an update on violent crime in the city, which has been seeing an increase amid the coronavirus pandemic, and what the Cincinnati Police Department has been doing to try to address it.

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“I want to hear what they are doing to resolve some of that and in the midst of all that chaos, we have an 8-year-old boy dead, so obviously that is going to capture the attention of the Law & Public Safety Committee and make us have a public conversation," Smitherman told FOX19 NOW earlier Wednesday morning.

"Have there been any arrests? Was this a drive-by? I hear more information needs to be released that has not.”

Isaac said so far this year there have been 35 homicides. That’s a more than 100 percent increase from the same time period last year.

Earlier this month, he announced a new task force aimed at curbing the rise in gun violence. On Tuesday, he told council that task force has seized more than 50 illegal guns over the last three weeks.

The chief said he thinks the increase in gun violence this year is due to an influx of illegal guns coming into neighborhoods.

Other changes include shifting personnel to supplement the police department’s Gang Unit and expanding Shot Spotter technology to Over-the-Rhine, Pendleton, and the West End.

Members of the department’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit and ATF Task Force also are reassigned to focus on wanted individuals in hot spot areas.

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