LENOIR COUNTY DEPUTIES: Fathers charged in two separate accidental shootings, one fatal, after toddlers access unsecured guns

LENOIR COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Two Lenoir County fathers have been charged after deputies say they failed to properly secure their guns from toddlers, both ending in accidental shootings – one fatal.

Deputies say that the two accidents happened nine days apart. The first happened on January 5th at a home on Rebecca Lane north of Kinston when deputies say a toddler gained access to an unsecured and loaded handgun and fired one shot, striking a teenage sibling, and causing serious injury. The teenager has since recovered.

According to deputies, 33-year-old Farentino Roberts, who is the father of both children was charged on Wednesday with misdemeanor child abuse, failing to store firearms to protect minors, and contributing to the neglect of a minor by a parent.

Roberts turned himself in when he was told about the charges and was given an unsecured bond.

Deputies say that the second accident happened in Pink Hill on January 14 when a 3-year-old boy was killed after he shot himself with an unsecured and loaded handgun.

Deputies charged Clarence Byrd III, 29, on Thursday with involuntary manslaughter and negligent child abuse.

Byrd also turned himself in when he was told about the charges.

“My heart goes out to the families involved in these tragic incidents,” Lenoir County Sheriff Jackie Rogers said. “Please support these fathers and their families as they navigate the future. I challenge all Lenoir County residents to practice firearm safety in their homes, especially in homes where children are present.”

For information on how to talk to children about gun safety, rules for safe gun storage, and rules for safe gun handling, please visit the N.C. Department of Public Safety online at ncdps.gov/dps-services/safety-tips/gun-safety.