The tragic shooting death of an officer’s 7-year-old daughter, shot by one of her siblings with her father’s gun, is a painful reminder of the importance of gun safety.
“Accidents happen, mistakes happen, that’s human nature. It doesn’t matter if you’re a police officer or not, sometimes guns are going to fall into the wrong hands, and when that happens, it’s quite likely there will be a tragedy,” said John Urquhart, a retired sergeant with the King County Sheriff’s Office.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner identified the girl Monday as Jenna Carlile and her cause of death as a single gunshot wound to the torso. She was shot Saturday by a sibling who found a loaded gun in the family’s van as it was parked near the Stanwood City Hall.
Police identified her father as Officer Derek Carlile, 30, of Camano Island. Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said Carlile has been with the department since 2009.
“I can tell you as a police chief, this is one of the most difficult things I have ever been a part of,” Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith told reporters Monday. “That’s one thing that you don’t ever want to see, is one of your officer’s children get hurt, and certainly it falls along the same lines as an officer being hurt or killed or a family member.”
Smith said he was at the hospital with Carlile while his daughter was in surgery.
“It was extremely difficult, extremely difficult for him,” Smith said. “My heart goes out to him, and his family. It is tragic.”
Carlile has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Smith would not comment on the ongoing investigation into the incident, which is being conducted by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators have not said whether the gun was Officer Carlile’s personal firearm or his police-issued weapon.
Urquhart said officers are typically not required to carry their service weapon while off duty.
“That’s kind of a myth, most departments have gotten away from that,” Urquhart said. “It’s pretty much up to the officer how often he takes that gun with him when he is off duty.”
Smith would not comment on the department’s specific policies regarding firearms, or how they should be secured. As of Monday evening, the department had not revoked Officer Carlile’s service weapon.
Urquhart said cop or not, every gun owner is responsible to keep their weapon out of the wrong hands.
“I think everybody should be held to the same standard, and that’s keeping your gun safe.”
A benevolent fund has been set up to assist with medical bills and burial costs in the name of Jenna Carlile has been established at Opus Bank and can be deposited at any branch, or can be mailed to: Opus Bank, Jenna Carlile Fund, 815 State Ave., Marysville, WA 98270.