NATIONAL NEWS

Man shooting air rifle near Utah day care is person of interest for wounding toddler

May 24, 2023, 9:46 AM

A farming field across the street west of the Leap Ahead Daycare facility, is shown Tuesday, May 23...

A farming field across the street west of the Leap Ahead Daycare facility, is shown Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Spanish Fork, Utah. A 2-year-old boy was shot in the head by a stray bullet while playing outside at day care in Utah, the facility's owner and authorities said. Spanish Fork police believe the bullet came from a pellet or air gun shot from the field across the street of the facility, Lt. Clay Slaymaker said. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) — A man shooting birds in suburban Utah with a .22-caliber air rifle is a person of interest for wounding a toddler in the head outside a day care center this week, authorities said Wednesday. The child is recovering in a Salt Lake City hospital.

The man is cooperating with investigators and won’t be named unless prosecutors decide to file charges against him, the Spanish Fork Police Department said. On Tuesday, they had called the shooting “a tragic accident” in a press release.

The 2-year-old boy was playing outside at Leap Ahead Daycare’s Spanish Fork facility, about 52 miles (84 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City, when employees noticed him stumbling and bleeding from the head on Monday afternoon.

Although nobody heard shots fired, the suspected air gun pellet left a hole in the vinyl fence wrapping the day care’s outdoor play area, suggesting it came from farm fields across the street, Lane Mugleston, the day care’s owner, said Tuesday. Employees called the child’s parents who took him to the hospital.

Doctors found what looked like a bullet lodged in the child’s head and transported him to a larger Salt Lake City hospital.

Mugleston noted that, due to the day care’s location near an airport, it’s often hard to hear things. He said he was dumbfounded and surprised by the episode and had notified all clients of the day care.

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Man shooting air rifle near Utah day care is person of interest for wounding toddler