JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ark. – Investigators in Jefferson County say an 8-year-old boy is dead after being shot by his 5-year-old brother Thursday afternoon.

According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were sent to a home in the 2700 bock of Shannon Valley Road just west of Pine Bluff around 2:30 p.m. after receiving a 911 call.

When they arrived on the scene, the deputies discovered the 8-year-old unresponsive inside the house. The county coroner was called to the home and the child was declared dead.

Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods, who originally reported the age of the victim as 9 and the age of the child who shot the gun as 3, noted that the shooting is being investigated as an accident, but one that could have been avoided.

“This is a tragic incident that could have been avoided. I can’t emphasize strongly enough that guns need to be well secured and kept out of the hands and away from children at all times,” he said in a release.  “Gun owners that do not properly secure their firearms are just one split second away from one of these tragedies happening in their home.”

Sheriff Woods says this investigation is ongoing as there are many unanswered questions. One of which, how secure was the gun inside the home for the 5-year-old to access the gun. 

Family members could be seen gathering outside the home as deputies continued their investigation at the scene. 

Sheriff Woods adds that four other siblings and the mother were believed to be inside the home when the fatal shot was fired. 

Following state protocols, the Arkansas Department of Human Services was notified about the shooting, with caseworkers arriving to assess the welfare of the children living in the home, as well as other conditions.

Deputies said the body of the 8-year-old was being sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab so an autopsy could be performed.

The sheriff’s office noted that the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.