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Wichita man arrested in accidental shooting of 12-year-old niece

Police said they arrested 23-year-old Christian Lehl on aggravated battery, aggravated weapons...
Police said they arrested 23-year-old Christian Lehl on aggravated battery, aggravated weapons charges and outstanding warrants.(Sedgwick County Jail)
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:04 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita police confirmed early Tuesday morning that they have arrested one person in connection to an accidental shooting at an apartment complex in west Wichita that sent a 12-year-old girl to the hospital.

Police said they arrested 23-year-old Christian Lehl on aggravated battery, aggravated weapons charges and outstanding warrants.

According to police, Lehl was watching his nieces and nephews, aged 10 to 13 years, at the apartment complex. Just after 8 p.m., Lehl was showing a handgun to an 18-year-old friend when the gun unintentionally went off and shot the 12-year-old girl who was in another room.

The 18-year-old was not arrested.

The investigation is ongoing, and the case will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.

Police said the girl is expected to make a full recovery, but the situation could have been much worse. The unintentional shooting started a larger conversation about gun safety, specifically in the area where it happened. Neighbors who live in the Magnolia Woods Apartments said they hear gunshots in the neighborhood too often.

Some said they are looking to move out, saying unintentional or not, too many gunshots go off in their west Wichita neighborhood.

“A lot of people have moved out in the last 30 to 45 days,” Magnolia Woods resident Christina Reyes said. “My neighbor across the hall, two units upstairs and that’s just in my hallway that I know about. And I really don’t think I can stay after (Monday) night.”

Wichita police said officers responded to 26 accidental shootings last year, up from about 17 in 2019.

“So, we want to continue to educate the community and try to help keep educating so that we don’t have a death from an accidental gun discharge from negligent actions,” Wichita Police Public Information Officer Charley Davidson said.

To prevent accidental shootings, Davidson the department encourages people in the community to always treat a gun as if it’s loaded and to never point one at anyone, “or in an unsafe direction.”

A 12-year-old girl was critically injured in a Monday night shooting at a west Wichita apartment complex. The shooting happened a little before 8 p.m. inside a residence at the Magnolia Woods Apartment Complex near 13th and West Street.

In a briefing about one-and-a-half hours after the shooting call, Wichita police did not say if they have any suspects in custody, nor whether the shooting was accidental. They did say the girl was not playing with a gun and officers had made contact with everyone who was present at the time of the shooting. At the briefing, police did not say how many people they’d contacted, but did say they were not looking for anyone in connection with the shooting and that the scene was secure.

Police said the girl was taken to a Wichita hospital where, as of about 9:30 p.m., she was stable, but still in critical condition.

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