3-year-old finds gun, accidentally shoots self on Christmas Day in North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- An accidental Christmas Day shooting has left a 3-year-old girl hospitalized in Asheville, North Carolina, authorities said.

A 911 call was placed around 2:30 p.m. Saturday reporting that a child had accessed a firearm and accidentally shot herself, according to the sheriff's office in Henderson County, which is south of Asheville.

A family friend tells WLOS, the ABC affiliate in Asheville, that the family needs all the prayers they can get.

"I received an emotional text this morning from Aylee's mother," family friend Denise Hunter said. "They are clinging to all the prayers that can go up for their beautiful little girl."

The child was airlifted to Mission Hospital and was undergoing medical treatment, spokesperson Johnny Duncan told CNN on Sunday. As of Monday, the girl was under heavy sedation following surgery.

The shooting happened in the parking lot near a Dollar Plus store, according to the store's owner.

In 2020 in the US, more than 5,100 children younger than 18 were killed or injured in gun incidents, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

The-CNN-Wire contributed to this report.