Pistol
A toddler found a handgun, which was kept for security, behind the counter near the cash register.Reuters

A three-year-old boy in North Carolina accidentally shot and killed himself with a gun he found tucked behind the counter of a convenience store owned by his father.

The boy's father, Manal Abdelziz, 56, was working nearby at Brother's Mini-Mart when the tragedy occurred. "I believe he had taken his eyes off the child for just a moment," Lumberton Police Captain Terry Parker told WTVD-TV.

"The child went behind the counter where the gun was stored and actually gained access to the gun that way. Dad was very upset as you can imagine," Parker said. "Being a father myself, I can't imagine what he's going through." The gun was kept for security, according to an employee.

Abdelaziz said his son spent the morning sitting on a stool next to him behind the counter. "I was talking to him, business and different things," he said. "All we heard was something happening and I looked and, oh my God, my son is on the floor."

The boy's name was Manal, but he was known as "Cash." He loved to help out at the store and greeted people as they entered. "He loved life. He loved people," Abdelaziz said. "He would say, 'I love to work.'"

Abdelziz could face charges under a state law requiring gun owners to secure and restrict access to loaded weapons from children.

"Please, if you have weapons, keep them out of the hands of our little ones, and please don't store them loaded," Lumberton Police Captain Terry Parker said.

"Kids are going to be naturally curious about firearms. We as adults have got to protect the kids to the best of our ability."