Stepfather lied about son being shot, 10-year-old shot himself in face

SAMPSON COUNTY (WTVD) -- The Sampson County Sheriff's Office has charged a stepfather after a 10-year-old boy was shot in the face Thursday evening.

It happened in the Harrells community, in the southernmost part of Sampson County. Deputies were dispatched about 7 p.m. to an address on Maddie Lane.

Jeffrey Lee Newton Jr., 31, is charged with felony child abuse, permitting a child to have access/firearm and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Before Newton's arrest, deputies spent hours searching for a gunman on the loose after Newton told investigators he and his son were walking on Belvin-Maynard Road when he heard a gunshot and saw his son fall.

Before first responders could get to the scene, family members put the victim in a car and started driving toward Clinton to take him to a hospital.

A deputy intercepted the car and rendered first aid until Sampson County EMS arrived. They eventually took the injured boy to a landing zone where he was flown to a trauma center.

"The little boy looked up at the officer and asked him if he was going to make it better," said Sheriff Jimmy Thorton. "You know you can't get any more touchy than that. I mean, the officer said he almost lost it."

The sheriff's office said the boy had a bullet removed from his cheek and is expected to make a full recovery.

While the boy will be just fine, the sheriff said the situation could have been much worse.

Thornton is hoping this story serves as a lesson for all gun owners to lock and secure all weapons from a child's reach.

Newton was initially booked into the Sampson County Detention Center under a $5,000.00 bond.

His bond is expected to increase given the felony charge. Additional charges may be filed.

The Department of Social Services has also opened an investigation into the child's well-being
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