- Associated Press - Saturday, October 15, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Except for a few horrific moments, each case looks like a portrait of everyday life in Idaho:

Parents visit friends and chat while their young children play together in a nearby room. Teens hang out late one night in a basement while a parent sleeps upstairs. A mom takes her toddler son and her nieces to Wal-Mart the week after Christmas.

But it’s the moments that matter, because that’s all it took for 5-year-old Noelle Shawver to be fatally shot by another 5-year-old as they played in a Pocatello home, or for 15-year-old Tristan Fenton to be killed by an unintentional gunshot fired by his friend, or for 29-year-old Victoria Rutledge to die from a shot to the head after her curious toddler discovered a gun in her purse.

A joint review by The Associated Press and USA TODAY Network into more than 1,000 accidental shootings involving children show those moments happen more frequently in gun-friendly Idaho than in most other states.

Eleven youths were involved in unintentional shootings in Idaho since the start of 2014, according to the review. That puts Idaho at eighth in the nation, with a rate of nearly 7 such shootings per million residents between the start of 2014 and June 30, 2016. In comparison, the national rate was almost half that, at 3.39 incidents per million.

Nationwide, the shootings across the country led to the deaths of more than 320 minors and more than 30 adults. Nearly 700 more children and 78 adults were injured during that time span.

In Idaho, five minors were injured and four others were killed during that time span. Two incidents involved adults unintentionally shot by youths.

Most of Idaho’s unintentional shootings happened in the home of the victim or an acquaintance. A look at each case:


Five-year-old Noelle Shawver died July 30, 2014 when she was at a friend’s house. She and another 5-year-old child were playing together when they found a loaded gun. The parents of both children were in another room when they heard the gun go off.

The parents of the other child were charged with misdemeanor injury to a child for leaving the weapon where children could access it. The charge was later dismissed by a prosecutor on condition that they pay about $28,000 in restitution to the Shawver family, complete counseling and develop a community service project to educate people about firearm safety in the home.


A 2-year-old boy in the northern Idaho town of Hayden had a toy cap gun, so when he found two other real guns hidden in the couch he may have thought they were also toys.

It was August 23, 2014 when the toddler found the .22-caliber pistol, and accidentally shot a 7-year-old child in the head.

The 7-year-old was initially in critical condition, but the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office later said the boy was expected to make a full recovery.

The owner of the gun, 31-year-old Joshua Smalley, was found guilty of felony injury to a child and being a felon in possession of a firearm.


Kelbie Ray Nelson lived in Flagstaff Arizona, but the seventh-grader was visiting family in Blackfoot, Idaho for Christmas 2014. He was playing with a gun at his grandmother’s house in the early morning hours the day after Christmas when it went off, killing him.

Nelson was 13 years old.


Later that day, an 11-year-old boy was unintentionally shot in the leg while bobcat hunting with his father near Castleford.

Police said the accidental shooting happened when the boy’s father slipped, dropping a 20-gauge shotgun. The gun fired, hitting the child in the upper thigh.

The father made a tourniquet and carried the boy to a nearby home, and emergency workers flew him to a Boise-area hospital for treatment.

Investigators said the shooting was an accident and no charges were filed.


Veronica Rutledge, a young nuclear research scientist from Blackfoot, was shopping at a northern Idaho Wal-Mart with her young son and other family members on Dec. 30, 2014. She also had her new purse, a gift from her husband that included a special zippered pocket for carrying a concealed weapon. Both Rutledge and her husband were familiar with guns; they practiced at shooting ranges and had concealed weapon permits.

Rutledge was near the electronics section of the Hayden Wal-Mart when she left her purse unattended for a moment. That’s when her 2-year-old son found the zippered pocket. The gun discharged and the bullet hit Rutledge in the head, killing her.


Fifteen-year-old Israel Briones, nicknamed “Ree Ree,” died on March 13, 2015. He was visiting a friend in Caldwell at the time, and the boys apparently had a stolen gun. Briones was holding the weapon when it went off, hitting him in the head.

His death was ruled an accident. Investigators found that the adults in the home had no idea that the juveniles had a gun.


A 7-year-old eastern Idaho boy was shot in the arm with a .22-caliber gun when his older brother attempted to move a blanket covering the gun.

The Bingham County Sheriff’s said the 9-year-old brother didn’t think the gun was loaded when he was moving the blanket in April 14, 2015. The gun discharged, however, striking the 7-year-old boy, and his parents called the ambulance for treatment.


A Mountain Home teen was injured when he was handling a relative’s gun on Aug. 21, 2015.

The police department said the 16-year-old was handling the .40-caliber gun when it discharged, hitting him in the leg.

The teen was hospitalized for treatment. Police said the shooting was accidental and no charges were filed.


Tristan Fenton was 15 years old when his best friend, 18-year-old David Provencio, unintentionally shot him in the head on Oct. 17, 2015.

Fenton’s mother and older sister were in another room watching a movie while the two teens and a couple of their friends hung out in another room.

Prosecutors said Provencio thought the handgun was empty when he aimed it at Fenton’s head and pulled the trigger. Provencio was later charged with involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.


Twelve-year-old Kaitlynn O’Donahue was attending an informal gathering of 3% Idaho militia members with her dad at a Rupert gun range when she was shot in the stomach on February 21, 2016.

Police released few details at the time, but said the girl was shot by a 9mm handgun.

A post published on the 3% of Idaho Facebook page said someone was attempting to “clear” their weapon after shooting practice when the bullet ricocheted off of a metal table and struck the child in the stomach.

O’Donahue was listed in stable condition the day after the unintentional shooting.


Travis Sorensen was helping a friend move in the eastern Idaho town of Rigby when a toddler found a gun and shot him in the foot.

The group had been taking apart a bed when a gun was found stashed underneath the mattress. The gun had then been placed on the floor.

At one point, Sorensen went into the basement to take a nap. He was lying on a couch when a 3-year-old found the gun upstairs and fired it.

The 25-year-old Sorenson awoke to the noise of the gunshot and pain - the bullet had gone through the floor above, ricocheted off of a windowsill and hit him in the foot.

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