Law enforcement pleads to the public: Lock up your guns

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published May 3, 2024

 Warren Police Commissioner Charles Rushton demonstrates how to lock and unlock a gun at an April 23 press conference.

Warren Police Commissioner Charles Rushton demonstrates how to lock and unlock a gun at an April 23 press conference.

Photo by Gena Johnson


WARREN — The Warren Police Department and the Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido held a press conference at police headquarters April 24 to provide an update about an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself. They also took the time to stress the importance of gun locks and safe storage.

“As of this morning, the child remains in extreme critical condition,” said Lt. John Gajewski, public information officer for the Warren Police Department. The boy’s name is being withheld at the request of the parents, he said.

Officials in attendance said the shooting was avoidable.

“This incident was preventable. Very simple steps could have been taken to prevent the child from having access to a loaded weapon,” said Warren Police Commissioner Charles Rushton.

Police said the “simple steps” include unloading the gun when it is not in use and locking it or putting the unloaded gun in a locked safe or locked container. That coincides with Michigan’s new secure storage law that went into effect Feb. 13. Failure to do so can result in felony charges punishable by up to 15 years, according to Public Act 17 of 2023.

The commissioner and Lucido stressed the importance of gun locks, which are given out free of charge at the Warren Police Department.

“When you come in (to Warren police headquarters), the only question we will ask you is, ‘How many do you need?’” Rushton said. “We want to protect the children of our community. If you are in a surrounding community and for whatever reason can’t afford a gun lock, we will provide anybody who comes in our police department with a gun lock free of charge.”

The commissioner demonstrated how the locks are used to lock the gun and unlock it when it is quickly needed.

“It is a simple turn of the key. It comes apart. You pull it (the lock) out and the gun is ready to have a magazine put in,” Rushton said. “That took me 10 seconds.”

The additional seconds can give the time needed to assess the situation.

“This gives you the chance, again it’s only 10 seconds, five seconds if you practice, to get your faculties about you to make sure what you’re doing is necessary,” Rushton said, accounting for the many accidental shootings of family members or friends who were not expected to be at home.


What happened
At approximately 3:24 p.m. on April 19, Warren police and fire units were dispatched to 25166 Hoover Road in The Cove on Ten apartment complex, located near 10 Mile Road, where a young boy shot himself in the head, according to police.

Police reportedly administered lifesaving measures until the Warren Fire Department arrived on the scene and transported the child to an area hospital.

Other area police departments assisted in rushing the boy to the hospital.

“With officers from this department and several surrounding agencies blocking intersections along the way, so that medical attention could be received as quickly as possible,” Gajewski said.


The investigation
The investigation indicated the child’s mother, 33, and father, 56, were both home during the incident along with the couple’s three other children: a 6-year-old girl and 6-month-old twins.

“The investigation so far has revealed that a Glock .40-caliber handgun was unsafely and unsecurely stored on top of a kitchen cabinet inside the apartment,” Gajewski said. “The handgun was loaded while stored. No safes, lock boxes, or gun locks were utilized or located anywhere inside this apartment.”

It appears the child used a chair to access the gun, Gajewski said.

Detectives interviewed both parents, who were reportedly cooperative.

The child’s father, Theo Nichols, “admitted to having the gun unsafely and unsecurely stored inside the residence,” Gajewski said. “Nichols admitted to purchasing the gun from the street for protection, as his previous felony conviction for drugs prohibits him from legally owning a handgun.”


The charges
Nichols was arraigned in the 37th District Court in Warren on April 22 before Judge John Chmura. He faces three charges: child abuse in the second degree, a 10-year felony; safe storage violation, a felony punishable up to 10 years; and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a felony punishable up to five years.

Chmura set bond at $250,000 cash or surety.

Defense attorney Noel Erinjeri declined to comment on his client’s behalf.

Nichols is currently in the Macomb County Jail where he awaits a preliminary examination scheduled for 9 a.m. May 21 before Judge Suzanne Faunce in the 37th District Court.

Although Nichols is currently the only one charged in this case, police said the investigation remains active.