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Boy injured when WWII rifle goes off

Feb. 8, 2010

A Wauwatosa teen was cut above his eye and suffered gunpowder burns to his forehead when a World War II rifle that had been on display as art fired as he looked at it Friday.

According to the Wauwatosa police report:

A year ago, the boy and his mother moved into her boyfriend's home in the 100 block of North 121st Street. During that time, he has expressed interest in the vintage bolt-action wood rifle that hung over the fireplace. The Japanese World War II rifle was given to the boyfriend by his father more than 20 years ago, and he believed it was not loaded and would not fire even if it had ammunition.

About 5 p.m. Friday, the teen asked his mother if he could look at it and she agreed. He heard a rattling sound coming from inside the barrel, so he pointed it toward the floor and a bullet fell out. He put the bullet back in, and it immediately fired, hitting him in the forehead just above his right eye.

His mother and sisters heard him scream and ran into the room to find him bleeding. His eyebrow was peeled back. The Wauwatosa Fire Department took him to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, where he was treated for a cut above his swollen eye and gunpowder burns to his forehead. His sight was not affected.

Officers found a gun cabinet in the master bedroom. Half the cabinet, which contained six guns, was locked. But the other half, where knives and a handgun were stored, was open.

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