Neighbors were shocked to hear the news Christmas Day.
Martha Cooper, who has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, said when she heard what happened, she began praying for the family.
Investigators say Pharell Hinton, 3, somehow got his father's gun and most likely shot himself. Now his father is charged with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon.
"I can't imagine what he's going through cause he loves those children," Cooper told Eyewitness News.
Eric Hinton was taken out of the woods near his house by Raleigh police officers. Officers later examined a gun found in those woods.
When asked if the shooting was an accident, Hinton nodded and said, "Yes."
The judge told him Friday that he faces up to eight and a half years in jail if convicted. He now has a court appointed attorney. His bond remains set at $100,000.