The four-year-old son of a US sheriff accidentally shot and killed himself on Saturday.

Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Mark Easter was on his way to work when his wife Melissa called him to tell him what had happened to their son.

Emergency services received a call at around 5.30pm and he was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

An obituary for Michael Richard Leland Easter with the Desnoyer Funeral Home said: "Born on 11 November, 2009 to Mark and Melissa Easter left to be with God unexpectedly on 2 March, 2013. He was a joy, a rambunctious and loving son. He was loved by his family."

Steve Rand, from Jackson County Sheriff's Department, said: "This just serves as a reminder that we need to be vigilant when it comes to keeping our children safe."

However, neighbour Lon Zicafoose told Fox 17 that he could not understand how Michael came to get hold of a gun in the first place.

He said: "How did that kid get that weapon? How did he get a loaded weapon? How did they have access to it? I just can't imagine what the mom is going through, because the mom was there, what the mom and other kids are going through."

Speaking about the incident, he added: "I knew it was bad when one of the local sheriffs [got] here, he came out of the house and was walking down the driveway. I could tell he was crying and he got closer to the road here and he was sobbing and crying."

Tough situation

Michael's death follows a similar incident in Houston where a four-year-old boy shot and killed himself with his father's stolen shotgun.

Marquiez Deshon Pratt, 21, was asleep on the couch when his son, Jaiden, shot himself in the stomach on 24 February.

Pratt was arrested and charged with injury to a child by omission. Neither Mark nor Melissa Easter have been charged over their son's death.

Rand told Michigan Live: "The deputy in question was once a Jackson City Police officer, so the sheriff's office and the city police cannot investigate it because of the conflict of interest.

"It's been a really tough situation - nothing that I, or others in the department, would want to go through again."

Michigan State Police are investigating the incident and say it is not clear how Michael got hold of the gun.

Jackson County Sheriffs Department has bought in grief councillors to help staff members.