Family of toddler who shot herself with dad's gun says it was a preventable accident

Posted at 4:55 PM, Nov 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-27 17:52:19-05

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) — A toddler is in the hospital after shooting herself with a gun and her father is now facing child abuse charges.

Steven Johnston was arraigned this morning in Lincoln Park. His extended family was also in court this morning and they're calling the incident a preventable accident.

“This is a hell of a tragedy,” said Johnston’s grandfather Rick Nelson.

Police say 3-year-old Skylar shot herself in the head after finding a gun belonging to Johnston last Tuesday in their home on Dix Avenue in Lincoln Park.

Johnston, 26, appeared in court for his arraignment and is facing three counts of second-degree child abuse.

Johnston’s family told 7 Action News the girl’s father was not home at the time of the shooting. They add that the child’s mother was watching her and they are disappointed she isn’t facing charges.

“I don’t see anything happening to her," Nelson said.

The judge issued Johnston a personal bond of $15,000 and a GPS tether. His next court appearance is Dec. 10.

The judge also said Johnston will not be allowed to have contact with his other children, expect for Skylar in the hospital with medical staff present.

Joyce Nelson is the toddler’s great-grandmother.

“She needs her daddy," Joyce said. "She’s a daddy’s girl. She loves her daddy.”

Skylar’s great-grandparents are now hoping for a miracle.

“Keep this little 3-year-old in your prayers because she needs all the help she can get right now,” Joyce added.

And Rick, the child's great-grandfather, has this message for our viewers: “Unload your damn guns. Take a bullet out of the chamber. Put a lock on them. Don’t be stupid like this incident. I got a 3-year-old granddaughter who is probably not going to make it. Don’t be stupid.”