Worst nightmare: Authorities say Caroline's older brother, pictured with her here, fired the single shot from his .22-caliber rifle called a Cricket, fatally shooting her in the chest
A 2-year-old girl was accidentally shot and killed by her 5-year-old brother while he was playing with a child-size rifle given to him as a gift, authorities in Kentucky say.
Caroline Starks, a blonde, blue-eyed girl, was fatally shot in the chest by her brother's .22-caliber rifle only minutes after her mother says she stepped outside their home in Burkesville on Tuesday.
The single-shot weapon fired is a rifle specifically marketed to children as 'My First Rifle' by company Keystone Sporting Arms, according to authorities.
It was given to the 5-year-old as a gift last year, Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The company, Keystone Sporting Arms, produced 60,000 Crickett and Chipmunk rifles in 2008, according to its website.
It also makes guns for adults, but most of its products are geared toward children. The smaller guns come in all sorts of colors, including blue and pink.
The company's slogan is 'my first rifle' and its website has a 'Kids Corner' section where pictures of young boys and girls are displayed, most of them showing the children at shooting ranges and on bird and deer hunts. The smaller rifles are sold with a mount to use at a shooting range.
The shooting highlights a cultural divide in the gun debate. While many suburban and urban areas work to keep guns out of the hands of children, it's not uncommon for youths in rural areas to own guns for target practice and hunting.
In a brief news release, state police said the shooting occurred when the boy was 'playing' with the rifle, but did not elaborate.
It is not clear whether any charges will be filed, said Kentucky State Police spokesman Trooper Billy Gregory.
'I think it's too early to say whether there will or won't be,' Gregory said. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
Burkesville is a small town, with a population of just under 1,800.
It is located in foothills of Appalachia. The median household income in 2009 was estimated to be $17,747.
Bill McNeal and his son Steve McNeal decided to make guns for young shooters in the mid-1990s and opened Keystone in 1996 with just four employees, producing 4,000 rifles that year. It now employs about 70 people, according to their website.
No one at the company answered the phone on Wednesday.