Boy Dies After Suffering Gunshot Wound

LIBERTY BOROUGH (KDKA) -The 4-year-old son of a local police officer died after shooting himself with his father’s gun Friday.

The incident happened in Port Vue on F Street around noon. Police said Gavin Thompson, 4, was playing with his father’s police issued weapon and accidentally shot himself in the face.

“We all have kids. I have an 8-year-old at home. Things happen. You never get used to it. If it doesn’t bother you, you don’t belong in this business anymore,” Chief Luke Riley said.

Thompson’s father is a police officer in Port Vue and Liberty Boro. Investigators called him a good cop, and a dedicated family man with five children.

However, Allegheny County Police are investigating and trying to determine the circumstances. It’s not yet known if any charges will be filed against the father for leaving what is described as an “unsecured weapon” in his home.

Allegheny County Police are interviewing family members and neighbors trying to determine exactly what happened and how the boy got to the weapon.

Officer Thompson will be taking personal time to grieve over the loss of his son.

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One Comment

  1. Lisa says:

    OMG….That is so so tragic…..How does a baby get a hold of a gun?….Shouldn’t an officer of the law know to have his weapon way way out of a child’s reach

    1. John D. says:

      I’m a certified firearms instructor. If you cannot handle graphic detail, don’t read this. First and foremost, 4 year olds can outrun adults. They are fast. Don’t judge the cop. He’ll live with his decision to momentarily lay that gun down forever.

      How does a 4 year old shoot himself in the face? Simple. He/she doesn’t have large enough hands to hold and squeeze a trigger like an adult, but they know the trigger is the key to the whole operation. Blame it on too much TV violence or whatever. The child consequently turns the gun around, muzzle facing him, places their two thumbs inside the trigger guard, and squeezes the trigger. The results are tragically predictable.

      Pray for Officer Thompson in his grief, and ask yourself truthfully if you’ve ever put a gun down in reach of a small child. I don’t know the man, and I won’t pass judgment as some have done. Have a heart.

      1. Stacy Meredith says:

        Thank you John D….I have lost a child in an accident and there is no greater pain…sadly, accidents happen and none of us are perfect…we have all done things that have put our children in danger and that is the last thing in the world we want…prayers to all…

      2. Wayne LaPierre, NRA says:

        Guns don’t kill. People kill.

      3. Carrie says:

        You got to be kidding John D. Its most certainly is the officers fault…when you walk into the house you put a trigger lock on the gun or you lock it up in the safe. John I’m a life member of the NRA I’m not sure you as a certified firearms instructor know what your talking about. ITS THE OFFICERS FAULT! GET OVER IT! IF HE WOULD HAVE PUT THE TRIGGER LOCK ON HE WOULD STILL HAVE HIS KID! IT DOES NOT TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST TO FIGURE IT OUT!

    2. t'mara says:

      wayne, gun don’t kill, people kill, with guns

  2. Lisa says:

    actually shouldn’t everyone know that

    1. Carrie Atkins says:

      Carrie ~ it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Officer Thompson is human. Being a policeman doesn’t make him exempt from imperfection. Assuming he is like my husband, he probably put his gun in the same place he always has at the end of his shift. Do you realize the steps this small boy had to take in order to reach it? He dragged a chair over to the closet and climbed to a top shelf. How does that make it Officer Thompson’s fault any more than if Gavin would have reached for a steak knive or pair or sharp scissors? Either of those could have claimed his life. It was nothing more than a tragic accident. As I pray for him and his family I will also pray for you to remove your head from your butt and show some sympathy instead of being ignorant.

  3. Don't Do That says:

    Lisa, now is not the time to blame the boy’s father. Don’t you think he feels horrible enough?

  4. kevin says:

    i think this is the time to offer support and prayers to the family .

    1. Don't Do That says:

      You are so right, kevin.

  5. Lin says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family

  6. Jo says:

    I’m sure Lisa’s thoughts and prayers go out to this family, tho she has a valid concern. If you choose to be a weapon owner and have children, you should be responsible. Too many pepople blame “the gun” when things like this happen, and they do happen way too often. It’s very sad…

  7. Nancy Dalena Elsesser says:

    I hope that father suffers for the rest of his life an charges need to be brought against him!! Shame on him for leaving a loaded gun for a 4year old to get!!

    1. Michelle says:

      This father cannot suffer anymore HE LOST HIS CHILD BY HIS DOING. However I would never wish this upon anyone. People make mistakes and poor lack of judgment constantly. Yes he should have known to secure his weapon, yes he should have cleared the weapon but the facts remain: a child is dead and a family griefs. Should have and anger will not bring back their child. Our prayers should be to comfort the family during this terrible time.

    2. George says:

      Nancy cleaerly you are 1 person that does not like police officers, As most people dont know, When you are a police officer you are on duty 24 hours a day, John is a awesome Policeman, And a great father to his children, As far as your comments, It shows how much of an idiot you are, He will suffer the rest of his life, But he will do it at home with his wife and other children,

      1. No Flamers says:

        George said, “Nancy cleaerly you are 1 person that does not like police officers,”

        Wake up George. Not ONCE did Nancy mention police officers. Whats the matter with you?.

    3. LB says:

      Nancy he will suffer every waking moment for the rest of his life , and shame ion you for wishing this man anymore pain at this point right now , you need prayers as well for the HATE THAT YOU SHOW towards this man , do you think he doesn’t know his child is gone for his Mistake ? God Forgives all Nancy who are you to judge this tragic event for this man and his family

    4. Christiann Erkel says:

      Wow, Nancy, how fortunate that you never suffered any great loss in your life and that have never had to ask for forgiveness. And even better than that is the fact that you know your future!! You will never have to ask for forgiveness as the rest of us will. My prayer is for this father and his family so that one day he knows that God has forgiven him and that his son is now safe in the arms of Jesus.

    5. Bruce says:

      Nancy Dalena Elsesser, you are cold and heartless and your existence appears to be to cast venom and hate whenever you can. So relish in your self today especially after striking out at this grieving father. Now coil back under your rock until the next stranger happens across your path.

    6. scott says:

      WOW! COLD $#$##! You forgot the hyphen in your name. If there isn’t one, there should be. You fit the bill

  8. Diane LaPorto says:

    Sorry, but the adults in the home should have took precaution to secure that gun. Period. As an adult, parent and officer the father made a tragic and deadly mistake. God bless this family.

  9. poop says:

    No Lisa is one of those anti gun nuts.
    The guy had it in his closet prob not just on top of some old clothes .
    Most hand guns come with a hard case that latches closed.
    Mean the boy went in and opened it.

  10. JG says:

    This family has just lost their 4 year old child. Have some compassion for the family. Offer prayers and sympathy not criticism. We all make mistakes! It is a tragedy not a crime!

  11. Michelle says:

    My heart goes out to this family. Questions still remain. Why was the service weapon not CLEARED & LOCKED UP!!!! A responsible gun owner EVEN AN OFFICER should know to clear the service weapon and secure it.

  12. Dawn says:

    I know this family and they love their children dearly & are awesome parents but they are also human & make mistakes, as we ALL do! What they need now is family, friends and lots of prayers. God bless you

  13. Maria says:

    My heart goes out to this family in their time of grief, what a terrible tragedy. At times like this even if you don’t know the family you feel so much compassion for them, just want to put your arms around them and tell them you’re there for them in their time of need. The only comfort I know to give this family is knowing that their precious little boy is with Jesus. I will keep you in my prayers and may God Bless all the family.

  14. Dave N. says:

    as a father,my heart breaks for this family.the torment that this man will battle within himself, will be far greater than any punishment the law could ever dispense on this a LEO and a firearms instructor all of us can take a valuable lesson away from this tragedy, law enf. or not.weapons go from secure on your person to secure under lock and key.unfortunately in our business,bad people have even been known to follow police officers home.we must always be in a state of readiness. this is terrible tragedy that only JESUS knows how deeply this family is hurting.may his peace comfort them through this horrible time GOD BLESS THEM.

  15. Shirl says:

    This is a horrible accident..My Thoughts and prayers goes out to this family at this time…May Jesus Hold them tight at this time,

  16. LB says:

    This is no time to blame this man m as a father of 3 I could not imagine nor do I want to the pain this man is going through , and no amount of punishment given to this man equal the cross this man must bear for the rest of his life , for people on this thread to say how he should have known better , well of course he does … My thoughts and prayers are with this family .,….. May God bless them and all who have cast stones at him .

  17. maw says:

    My heart goes out to this family! My family dealt with a loss of a family member by gunshot earlier this year. He was an adult but the loss by a tragic event like that is very strong. We know the pain that comes with such a loss. This poor father with forever wonder what mistake he made for that child to get a hold of his gun! I am sorry for their loss and their family will be in my prayers!

  18. mom of one says:

    whiskey6 if you didnt care.. dont write.. go to the mall..

  19. C. Capuano says:

    Drink a little more whiskey, it will clear your mind, jerk.

  20. Nikki Z says:

    My heart goes out to the family. Im sure their hearts will never fully heal from such an awful event. It is not appropriate to be negative and judgmental while people are mourning the loss of their child. Shame on those of you that think you need to point fingers during this time.

  21. jessica says:

    I am absolutely outraged after reading some of these responses! I DO personally know this man and for anyone to wish pain or suffering againt him at this time, or ANY time for that matter is WRONG! He is an outstanding police office and a VERY dedicated family man!! I do not know the exact details behind what happened due to giving him and his family TIME and SPACE to GRIEVE their LOSS, however I can reassure you that this man did NOT just neglect situation and allow it to happen! This man would drop everything to help anyone in any situation so anyone who wants to bash him, please don’t do it here!! This man and his family DO NOT need to suffer anymore!! .. RIP Gavin ❤

  22. Denny H says:

    Oh Lord, now is the time to comfort this family. We cannot change what has been done, and they are left behind to deal with the grief. Gavin is with you and in no pain, while the remainder of his family are distraught over the incident. Let’s not point fingers, the guilt will live in them forever. Now is the time to give mercy and grace.

  23. NJFP says:

    I am grateful this site is a bit more compassionate than some of the others. I am a family member of the mother of this child. Please remember this tragic accident happened to a child, it is not a homicide by a police officer. Please consider that no one will ever know what Gavin would have grown up to become, who he may have helped, or what his life would be like. This is a time to honor this child’s short-lived life and to respect him as a human being, not to bash his remaining family members. We are all gifts of God and this gift has been retrieved by God. There is no need to harm his family – who loved him and will mourn his loss forever. There’s a simple message for everything in life, so here’s one for now: If you have nothing kind to say, say/write nothing at all. Your comments of hurt are irrelevant to emotionally and spiritually intelligent people. May God bless Gavin and peace be with you child.

    1. NLHMAK says:

      I hope that the proper authorities are looking deeper into this tragedy. Where were the 4 other children when this happened and how does a 5 y.o. pull a trigger on a gun? Something just doesnt seem right. I know accidents happen and I am sure thats what this was, but I dont think it happened the way it is being told.

  24. azwildcatgirl says:

    This poor father is going to have the image of his son laying there lifeless and covered in blood. This is an image that will never go away no matter what you do to try to forget it. Trust me I know I saw my best friend get hit by a speeding semi that ran a red light into the city. The truck drug him for a quarter mile, by the time the truck stopped there was nothing left of my friend (think of the deer on the highways that have been hit by trucks and then make it 10 times worse) you couldn’t even tell that he was holding his bike because it too was everywhere. I live with the fact that I should have been next to him when it happened but I stopped to tie my shoe. Its been 22 years and I still can’t go anywhere near the intersection where it happened without hearing and smelling every thing from that day.

    They driver of the truck lost his CDL, and was to spend 6 months in jail. The day he was sentenced was also the day he died, he killed himself while waiting to go back to the jail. The last thing he said was “Please don’t let this and me keep you from your life. I see the two of you everywhere, I hear your screams every time it is quite, I still feel every hit that you gave me when I got out of the truck. I will and can never forgive myself and I won’t blame you if you never forgive me. But please, please don’t let this haunt you forever too.”

    Hopefully, the family especially the other children wont be haunted by this accident and EVERYONE not just this family learns something from this. After all that is all we can do forgive (never forget) and try to move on and make choices that our loved ones would be very proud of if they were still here. Remember this does not just effect the father it effects the whole family.

  25. Me says:

    I feel so bad for the officer. But I have a 5 year old son and own 2 guns. I see him 5 days a week n everyday he comes my first thoughts are ‘did I lock them up. Did I lock the cabinet. So I run upstairs n look again n again. I’ve owned my guns for 3 yrs. I do it everyday since i got them.

    1. You says:

      So, you would rather utilize your time checking and re-checking then checking again ON A DAILY BASIS just because its your Constitutional right?

      Your priorities are way out of line.

      Get rid of those damn guns and spend that time with your 5 year old son. I guarantee your son would like it more,

  26. NLHMAK says:

    At least he checks them. I bet that father wishes that he had done the same. I cant comprehend how a police officer can be so careless with not 1 but 5 children in his home. I think Social Service needs to make a visit….

  27. Saw it before... says:

    This guy can never be an effective cop again.

    He will re-live his personal tragedy every single day; every single time he gets ‘one of those calls’; every single time he puts his holster on; every single time his hand brushes up against his gun.

    To think otherwise is foolish.

  28. Jenn Lang says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to this family. I have prayed for them every night since I heard about this. I pray that this does not tear the family apart and that they stay strong during this terrible time. I read all of the posts and can’t believe how heartless people are being! This family will have to live with this forever, especially the father. Good people make mistakes every day that result in fatal consequences, but we don’t hear about them. This man should not be punished for this, it was not his intent for this to happen, it was an accident. And I don’t care that he was an officer and should know better. A man who serves and protects our communities everyday, happens to make a mistake that affects his family (not yours or mine) and everyone wants to persecute him. Why is everyone so unforgiving these days?

  29. Robie Gosney says:

    This was a very tragic accident and my heart goes out to him and his family. Do any of you really feel he deserves any of these heartless comments? Mr Thompson was someone who served us.. He puts his life on the line daily and for anyone to judge him, shame on you. He will have to relive this everyday for the rest of his life.
    Mr. Thompson, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers and with the strength of our LORD you will be able to get through this.
    Lets show some compassion and Pray for little Gavin and for his mother and father and brothers and sister who need their communities to come together and support them at this time.
    And to you heartless people I will pray for you that you will never have to go through such a tragedy.

  30. Carrie Atkins says:

    In addition to praying for John and the Thompson family, we also need to pray for all of those that responded to the call. Other officers, detectives, friends, and neighbors all witnessed the horrific scene after it happened and we need to pray for their healing as well. May God comfort each of them and provide the strength they’ll need to accept what has happened.

  31. Michelle Faiello says:

    It is ashame that the public is saying horrible things about this father. I know the family and they are good people. John is a great father. The public should not be so quick to judge him. What if something like this happened to your family? Would you want people saying bad things about you? Think about it. May god bless this family and watch over Gavin in heaven.

  32. CJTF says:

    How about the officer NOT BRINGING the gone home; keep it at the station. It is his fault. The gun was not LOCKED. He should lose his jog

  33. CJTF says:

    A GREAT FATHER would NOT brign a GUN in his house, at ALL!

  34. Michelle says:

    That is the dumbest thing that I ever heard for the officers to leave their weapons at the station. What if they get called out from home? I think that they need to have their weapns with them at all times. Oh by the way it is spelled “job” not “jog”

  35. jackie says:

    My prayers go out to the police officer and family. Only if we could of done it over again we would have done it different, We all know that everytime something happens and we cannot take back what already happened. As far as anyone else with children please remember to secure your weapons.

  36. Liberty says:

    I live in Liberty and my heart breaks every second for this family. To say anything negative about this father is beyond heartless, it was a tragic accident, and accidents can befall anyone whether preventable or not. I hope and pray every day for this family that they can someday find peace, that they can lean on one another without anger or blame, that they can move forward with one another and again find happiness in life. I can’t imagine that any of that will happen anytime soon but I hope they realize how many people are praying for them and thinking about them. May God watch over and bless this family.

  37. stephen says:


  38. stephen says:

    Yes Stephen

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