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Free gun safes available soon through Tulane's Gun Violence Prevention Lab

"This is a plea from myself to the citizens of New Orleans. We have to do a better job of securing our firearms," the NOPD superintendent said.

NEW ORLEANS — A two-year-old is in the hospital after accidentally shooting himself at the Costco gas station Tuesday afternoon. The child was in the back seat of a car while his brother was in line for gas, arrest records show. 

18-year-old Zyaire Cornelius was arrested on charges of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and possession of a stolen firearm. 

According to his arrest report, Cornelius picked up his two-year-old brother from a nursery near Costco and then stopped for gas.

While waiting in line, his brother was talking to him when he then heard a single gunshot. 

Cornelius told detectives he looked in the backseat and saw his brother shot himself in the leg with his Glock 19 gun. He said he forgot the gun was in the back seat. 

His arrest report also shows that the gun was reported as stolen from St. Tammany Parish. 

A judge set a $70,000 bond for Cornelius.

"Safe storage, safe storage, safe storage," said Julia Fleckman who helps run the Gun Violence Policy Lab with Tulane University. 

This is the third shooting of a small child in New Orleans this year. Fleckman researches how to prevent gun violence. One of the biggest issues she found is the unsafe storage of firearms. 

"I think it’s a real misperception that parents think, 'Oh, my kid won't find it when it's hidden,' when in fact kids are really smart and are likely to find it. Little kids know how and will figure out how to shoot a gun," Fleckman said. 

Thanks to funding from the Centers for Disease Control, the program is partnering with the city's health department to start giving away gun safes for free, trying to prevent more incidents like the one at Costco. 

"You can buy a biometric lockbox that your fingerprint is the only thing that opens it, it might have a backup lock, for about $100, that’s small enough to fit in your car and I think that’s a little bit about education and just having more access to it," Fleckman said. "We're seeing it as a really big need now." 

Those gun safes will be offered starting next week only for patients at University Medical Center who are there for a gun related injury. 

Later next month, there will be about 300 to give away to the general public. Locations and times are still in the works. Eyewitness News will bring you updates on how to get one when we receive them. 

After a 2-year-old child was shot and killed last month, NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson echoed the message about gun safety. 

"This is a plea from myself to the citizens of New Orleans. We have to do a better job of securing our firearms," Ferguson said June 23. 

He said in more than 20% of auto burglaries this year, a gun was taken.

"That's very concerning. So we're asking - please do not leave your weapons in your vehicle. It is no use to you. You cannot protect yourself if your weapon is in your vehicle," Ferguson said.

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