6 year old accidentally shoots, kills father in Bartholomew County

HARTSVILLE, Ind. -- A 6-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his father Sunday night in Bartholomew County.

Police say they responded to a call of a person shot in the 200 block of Clinton Street in Hartsville, Indiana. They found James E. Lonaker, 62, with a gunshot wound. 

Lonaker died en route to Methodist Hospital.

Investigators believe Lonaker's son picked up a 38-caliber revolver and fired a shot. Lonaker was apparently sitting on his desk and didn't see his son pick up the gun.

The gun belonged to Lonaker. 

“Many firearms accidents in the home can be prevented simply by making sure that firearms are kept unloaded and safely stored, with ammunition secured in a separate location,” Sheriff Matt Myers said.  “Please keep your guns in a secure location out of reach of children."

Mr. Lonaker’s wife and one-year old infant child were also in the house. They were not injured.

Lonaker was well-known in the community for his role in opening a boxing gym in Hope, and welcoming everyone in. 

"Anybody that wanted to come and work out whether they had any money to pay for the uniforms, my dad provided shoes, clothes, anything. Roofs over there head. He just could not stand for kids to go without," Lonaker's son, James said. 

Lonaker's children, James and Juli, said their dad was defined by his generosity and sense of humor.

"He had a magnetic personality, and people were drawn to him. And he has a lot of people he knows, and a lot of people that love him. And we're all just in shock over the situation," Lonaker said.

Indiana State Police have the following suggestions when it comes to gun safety:

  • When not in use, firearm should be stored unloaded in a gun safe, lock box or other secure location, separate from the ammunition
  • Make sure children and unauthorized users do not have access to your firearm or ammunition
  • Before storing the firearm, ensure it is unloaded
  • Always handle the firearm as if it were loaded
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  • Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction 


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