- Father had multiple warrants, including drug possession and animal cruelty
- Incident marks at least third since June of children killing themselves with guns
- Police say the girl found a pistol under the living-room couch while playing
- Father is charged with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a gun by a felon
A 2-year-old girl fatally shot herself in Fayetteville, North Carolina, over the weekend, and the toddler's father faces involuntary manslaughter charges, police said.
Melvin Andre Clark Jr., 19, who was arrested Sunday, also was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Fayetteville police spokesman Lt. Todd Joyce said.
The girl, Samarri Tyana Beauford, was playing in the living room of the home where she lived with her aunt and grandmother Saturday when she found a loaded .22-caliber pistol that police say Clark had left under the couch, Joyce said.
Joyce would not comment on where the toddler shot herself but said, "A child that small, they don't have the strength to pull a trigger with their index finger, but they are strong enough to use pressure from their two thumbs.
"Typically, they'll be looking at the weapon when these things happen."
The toddler was taken about 12:30 p.m. to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where she died, CNN affiliate WRAL reported. No one else was injured, the station said.
Clark was being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center on a $50,000 secured bond, Joyce said.
He appeared in court Monday, and his case was continued until November 7, according to the county clerk's office. No attorney was had been assigned to his case.
Police pursued the involuntary manslaughter charge because Samarri was killed in a "reckless or careless manner" or via a "heedless indifference" to the safety of others, Joyce said.
Several outstanding warrants were found when police ran Clark's name, including misdemeanor cruelty to animals, larceny and marijuana possession charges, police said, and Clark had been sentenced on convictions of breaking and entering, larceny and possession of a firearm by a minor.
This is at least the third instance since June of a child dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In New Orleans, a 5-year-old girl died June 23 after she came "into contact with a .38-caliber revolver and accidentally shot herself in the head" while her mother was at a store, police said.
The girl's mother was charged with cruelty to a juvenile until the 5-year-old died, at which point prosecutors added a second-degree murder charge. A judge in the case threw out the murder indictment last month, and the district attorney's office said it would appeal the decision, CNN affiliate WDSU reported.
In August, a 3-year-old boy in Dundee, Michigan, found a .40-caliber handgun belonging to a family friend on a closet floor in his home. He died after accidentally shooting himself in the head, police said. The family friend was charged with careless discharge of a weapon, a misdemeanor.
Less than two weeks ago, 2-year-old Michael Garcia Jr. was taken to a hospital after shooting himself in the legs with a .45-caliber handgun registered to his mother, according to CNN affiliate WFTV. The boy's injuries were not life-threatening, and the boy's father was charged with child neglect, the station reported.
According to the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 703 children under the age of 15 died in accidental firearms deaths between 2001 and 2010, the latest year for which the agency's statistics on fatalities are available.
During the same period, 7,766 children under the age of 14 suffered accidental firearm injuries.