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Father, son arrested in connection with accidental shooting at Moss Bluff Elementary

Father, son charged in accidental shooting of first-grader. (Source: KPLC) Father, son charged in accidental shooting of first-grader. (Source: KPLC)

Two have been arrested in connection with the accidental shooting of a 7-year-old at Moss Bluff Elementary, in Moss Bluff Louisiana, Monday.

A first-grader at the school was shot when another student brought the gun to school. When the gun fell out of a backpack, a second student picked up the gun and it accidentally fired, striking a third child.

Gage Meche, the first-grader who was shot, underwent surgery in Lafayette Monday. Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said he is continuing to improve and has been sitting up in a chair.

Gage's family released a photo of him in recovery Tuesday afternoon.

Mancuso announced Thursday that the father and brother of the boy who brought the gun to school have been arrested.

Michael Lane Dugas, 50, and Jake Abram Dugas, 17, both of Moss Bluff, each face a charge of negligent injuring. Michael Dugas is also charged with improper supervision of a minor.

"Unfortunately they are misdemeanors," Mancuso said. "But it is what we can charge them with."

Mancuso said the father gave the 17-year-old a gun for protection and allowed him to keep it unsecured, despite a safe being "just feet away in a closet."

"It's a deviation below the standard of care expected of an adult in a community and that can amount to criminal negligence, which can result in criminal charges," District Attorney John DeRosier said.

The gun was being kept about four feet off the ground in a mesh shoe organizer that hung on the wall of a room the brothers shared. The organizer was on the wall next to the first-grader's bed.

Mancuso said authorities aren't sure how the small, tan-colored .380-caliber handgun got into the child's backpack.

Calcasieu Superintendent of Schools Karl Bruchhaus said that counselors were made available to both teachers and students.

He said an effort was made to return to normalcy as soon as possible.

"I think we've been able to do that."

When asked about what could be done to improve safety at the schools, Mancuso said he believes that the schools already do "a tremendous job with the safety of our kids."

"How do you anticipate an elementary school encountering this type (of situation)," Mancuso asked. "It shouldn't have happened."

The sheriff laid the blame solely at the feet of those who hadn't secured the weapon.

"That gun should have been secured properly and safely and we wouldn't be dealing with this right now," he said.

Bruchhaus said the incident was "very much out of the norm" for Moss Bluff Elementary, a school of 1,000 students.

"We are constantly reviewing how to keep schools safe and how to make them safer," Bruchhaus said. "We do that every single day."

Both Mancuso and DeRosier urged residents to use the incident as an opportunity to review their gun safety procedures in the home.

"Do not store firearms where they can be reached by young children," DeRosier said.

"I don't think there's any two people in this country that support gun rights as much as our district attorney and myself do," Mancuso said. "I think if you're a law-abiding citizen and you want to own a gun, you should be able to do so ... or as many guns as you want to. We live in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world and that's one of the given rights that we have - our Second Amendment right, but you know what, we've also got to protect our children."

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