HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A girl accidentally shot and killed her sister Sunday night in northwest Harris County, according to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Gonzalez tweeted about the incident at 8:40 p.m. but said the initial call came just before 8 p.m. He provided an update at the scene at about 9:45 p.m.
According to Gonzalez, five adults and the two girls were hanging out at an apartment on Bammel North Houston Road near Tomball Parkway (SH 249). They were all family and friends, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the girls lived at the apartment with their parents.
At some point during the night when Gonzalez said one parent thought the other was watching the girls, they were left alone in a bedroom. He said the 3-year-old girl found a loaded pistol and fired a single shot.
Her 4-year-old sister was hit and pronounced dead at the scene, Gonzalez said.
Family members heard the shot, secured the gun and called 911, Gonzalez said.
The shooting appears to be accidental. It's unclear if any charges will be filed in connection with the shooting, but under state law, no arrests can be made in cases like this for at least seven days in order to give families time to grieve.
Here's the update Gonzalez provided at the scene of the shooting:
Authorities called this shooting an "easily preventable tragedy." The Harris County District Attorney's Office and other agencies recently launched a campaign to get people to lock up their guns. They're even giving away free gun safes and locks.
According to the newly formed Houston Gun Safety Coalition, 5.4 million children live in homes with unsecured guns.
There's also a surging problem of guns being stolen from vehicles in the Houston area.
That's why gun safes and locks are being given out for free. Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen previously said gun locks that loop through the weapons are available through his office.
"Our patrol deputies out on patrol actually have these in their trunk. All you have to do is stop an officer and ask them for a lock for a gun -- nine times out of 10 they’ll have it in the trunk and can get it out and give it to you. There’s no cost," Rosen said.
Authorities said properly storing firearms can prevent unauthorized access, theft and accidents.
"Get a gun safe or a gun lock. Store it somewhere where, you know, it can't be accessible to a child," Gonzalez said.
For more information about gun safety, including how to get a free gun safe or lock, click here.