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No charges in Pennsylvania gun store shooting

PITTSBURGH -- A district attorney has decided not to file criminal charges against a man in the accidental fatal shooting of his 7-year-old son outside a gun store.

Mercer County District Attorney Robert Kochems announced he wouldn't charge Joseph Loughrey, 44, of Jefferson Township, with carrying a firearm without a license.

Kochems said he considered the charge, a misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison, because Loughrey's gun was loaded when he put it in his truck moments before the gun fired on Dec. 8, killing his son, Craig. The boy had been buckling himself into his safety seat in his father's truck when the handgun, which was placed on the truck's console, fired as Joseph Loughrey got into the front seat, police said.

Loughrey had removed the magazine from the pistol but didn't realize there was still a round in the chamber when he tried to sell the 9-mm pistol at Twig's Reloading Den in East Lackawannock Township, about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, police said. When the sale didn't go through, Loughrey brought the gun back to the truck, where it accidentally fired.

Kochems said the evidence "shows that Mr. Loughery recognized that he could not carry a loaded firearm in his vehicle and believed he unloaded the firearm at home before taking it to the dealer to attempt to sell it and another weapon."

Only people with a license to carry a concealed weapon may keep a loaded gun in their vehicle, said Kochems' statement, first reported yesterday by The Herald of Sharon, Pa.

Kochems said his investigation determined that Loughrey stored the gun at home in a locked location, separate from the magazine, from which Loughrey unloaded the bullets before taking the gun with him to sell that day. Loughrey had stored the gun that way since he last shot it over the summer.

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