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Father charged after 2-year-old son shot in eye with BB pellet

The boy suffered serious injuries and had to be airlifted to a hospital.
Dale Preston

A father in northern Minnesota has been charged after his 2-year-old son was seriously injured after being shot in the eye with a BB pellet.

Dale Preston, 38, of McGregor, has been charged with two counts of 3rd-degree assault, two counts of felony child endangerment, domestic assault, and three drugs charges including possessing meth paraphernalia in presence of a child.

It comes after his son was rushed to Riverwood Healthcare Center by the boy's mother on Monday night, with his eye swollen shut after being shot in the eye by a BB pellet.

The injury was deemed serious enough to require he be airlifted to the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities, with his mother with him.

The boy's mother told police her son was in Preston's care at the time of the injury, and he'd said he'd been shot by a ricocheting pellet by some neighborhood kids who were playing with a BB gun outside.

Preston didn't go to the hospital, and police turned up at his house the next day but he wouldn't answer the door when police knocked.

Police did speak with a neighbor though, who said her kids were the only other children in the neighborhood and she doesn't let them interact with Preston. She said Preston had given her kids a BB gun once, but they'd destroyed it.

When eventually interviewed by police, he said he had been in the garden with his son while three kids aged 10-11 had been firing a BB gun nearby. He said his back was turned when his son was hit.

Preston initially denied giving the kids a BB gun, as his neighbor had said, but later admitted it. He also denied owning a BB gun himself, and denied shooting a BB gun inside his home.

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Police could find no evidence that children had been playing with BB guns near Preston's residence. 

Officers executed a search warrant at Preston's home on Thursday, finding squalid conditions inside including rotting garbage, multiple cats and dogs roaming the house and pet feces everywhere.

It was during the search that police found a BB gun sandwiched between the mattress and the box spring in Preston's bedroom. They also found a marijuana pipe and a baggie with a small amount of marijuana in a floor vent.

In the bathroom vanity, they found three clear plastic baggies – one of them containing meth – along with a hypodermic needle and an empty pill bottle.

The BB pellet was lodged under the 2-year-old's eyebrow, and will be surgically removed once the swelling goes down.

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