Toddler dies from airgun shot meant for firefighters

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The Independent Online

A toddler who was shot in the head with an airgun has died in hospital after his family decided to switch off his life support machine.

Two-year-old Andrew Morton was shot in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow soon after he left home with his brother to buy chips. He is believed to have been hit by a pellet aimed at firefighters called to a kitchen blaze on his street. A pellet had earlier hit a firefighter but he was not injured.

Scotland's Justice Minister, Cathy Jamieson, and the local MSP, Margaret Curran, said laws governing the weapons must be reviewed.

Strathclyde Police arrested a man aged 27 yesterday in connection with the incident, which happened at about 7pm on Wednesday.

At the Scottish Labour Party conference in Dundee, Ms Jamieson said the incident "has shocked people across Scotland and we take that very, very seriously. We've already been talking to our colleagues in the Home Office and we've talked again this morning."

She said the Westminster Government had already raised the age for owning an airgun from 14 to 17, while creating a new offence of possessing an air weapon in public places, and banning gas cartridge airguns.

But she continued: "I want to tell the people of Scotland that we will look very, very closely at this incident, and if there are lessons to be learnt then we will learn them. And I have to say to those who say that airguns aren't harmful - just look again at the pictures in your newspapers this morning and just read again the devastation to that family and please, think again."

Ms Curran, MSP for Glasgow Baillieston and minister for Parliamentary Business, said the tragedy had "horrified" the local community. "There is a real sense of horror at such a barbaric act," she said. "All options have to be considered.

"What all of us need to do is ensure that the perpetrators get the full force of the law and that they pay for this despicable crime. We will do whatever we can to protect our communities and our children. This is a devastating and brutal act, and my thoughts are with the family."

The arrest came after an inquiry involving more than 40 officers and a ballistics expert. As part of the investigation, primary school children were searched as they walked to school. The 27-year-old man is expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday.