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Man shooting at birds may have hit child at nearby Spanish Fork day care, police say

SHARE Man shooting at birds may have hit child at nearby Spanish Fork day care, police say
The Leap Ahead Daycare is shown on May 23, 2023, in Spanish Fork. A 2-year-old boy was shot in the head by a stray bullet while playing outside the day care in Utah, authorities said.

The Leap Ahead Daycare is shown on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Spanish Fork. A 2-year-old boy was shot in the head by a stray bullet while playing outside the day care in Utah, the facility’s owner and authorities said.

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Spanish Fork police believe they have found the man who accidentally shot a 2-year-old boy at a day care in the head with an air rifle.

The investigation began Monday when several children were outside the day care near 2000 North and 300 West, playing in an area surrounded by a vinyl fence. Two adults noticed that a boy “appeared to stumble and was seen bleeding from the face,” according to Spanish Fork police.

The child’s parents were notified. They then picked up their boy and took him to Utah Valley Hospital.

“It was not until at the hospital that doctors discovered through scans that the boy had a small caliber bullet lodged in (his) head. The child was then transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital for treatment,” police said.

Investigators stated Tuesday that there are open fields directly west of the day care and they suspected a stray round may have come from that area. Spanish Fork Police Lt. Cory Slaymaker said officers canvassed the area on Tuesday and questioned property owners. They learned of a man who had been known to shoot birds in the past, he said.

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Lane Mugleston, the owner of Leap Ahead Daycare, points to a bullet hole as he speaks to reporters Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Police went to that man’s house and questioned him. Slaymaker said the man told officers he was shooting birds on Monday with a .22 caliber air rifle at the time the boy was hit. The man’s property is located 300 to 400 yards west of the day care.

“He did not even know there was a day care facility (near his property),” said Slaymaker who described the man as being “quite taken back” when informed of what had happened.

“The male is cooperating with investigators and the case is still ongoing. Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be forwarded to the Spanish Fork city prosecutors office for review of any charges,” police said Wednesday in a statement.

The child remained hospitalized Wednesday but was stable and improving, police said.

As of Tuesday, police were notified that doctors have decided to leave the bullet in the boy’s head for fear of causing further damage if they boy undergoes surgery to remove it.

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Lane Mugleston, the owner of Leap Ahead Daycare, speaks to reporters Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press