Neighbors on edge, gun safety emphasized after girl hurt in shooting in W. Wichita apartment

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:50 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The day after an unintentional shooting at a west Wichita apartment complex, police said the 12-year-old girl who was shot is expected to make a full recovery.

Police said it was a situation that could have been much worse. According to police,23-year-old Christian 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.

Police said they arrested Lehl on aggravated battery, aggravated weapons charges and outstanding warrants.

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.”

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