OAKDALE, Minn. (WCCO) – Oakdale Police say a 9-year-old girl was accidentally shot by her 5-year-old brother in North Oakdale early Friday evening.

The girl was shot with a .22-caliber rifle that was apparently left out for repairs. Her parents and three other kids were home at the time.

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She was taken here to Region’s Hospital in St. Paul, and is currently listed in stable condition.

Witnesses say she was sitting up and was able to respond to questions. But it seems there are still some big questions as to how this happened.

Gerri Anne O’Neil was babysitting her grandson Friday night when she noticed something had gone wrong across the street.

“He woke up from his nap…around 4:30, and the dogs just went crazy,” O’Neil said.

She says police cars filled the streets and paramedics carried out a girl on a stretcher.

“I thought maybe she broke a bone,” she said.

But this was something much worse.

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O’Neil’s daughter, Holly Spannbauer, also witnessed the aftermath.

“I saw the cars, I saw the camera and called my mom and I’m like, ‘I really hope that she’s OK,’” Spannbauer said.

Officers say the girl was stable and could talk despite the bullet in her chest.

“We have a gun at home and I told my husband last night, ‘We have to get rid of it.’ But we have a locked safe, obviously, so it’s secure, and I feel comfortable knowing that,” she said. “But I don’t feel safe knowing that the neighbor across the street…we don’t know what could have happened or where he would go with it.”

Officers are now working to figure out how such a serious situation came out of child’s play.

“It’s heart wrenching when a 9 year old and a 5 year old, you know, it’s innocent but still not OK,” Spannbauer said.

The website kidshealth.org has three tips if you do keep a gun in your home:

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1) Always keep the gun unloaded and locked up.
2) Lock and store the bullets in a separate place.
3) Make sure to hide the keys to the locked boxes.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield