Yanelly Zoller
A 4-year-old girl accidentally shot herself dead with her grandmother's gun while she was looking in her bag for candy. Tampa Bay Times/Family Photo

A 4-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed herself in Tampa, Florida last week, the Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday. Yanelly Zoller was looking for candy in her grandmother’s bag, but instead she found a gun. She pulled the trigger by mistake and was shot in the chest.

“She just wanted some damn candy,” Shane Zoller, 22, told the publication. He is the father of three children. One of them is on the way and the other he was slated to bury Thursday.

Yanelly’s death is being investigated by authorities, but they are not suspicious of what happened to the 4-year-old.

Zoller left his daughter with his parents, Michael and Christie Zoller, Sept. 14. When he went to take her back, he saw authorities at the house. “I was driving to pick her up with her bathing suit in my car to take her to the splash pads,” he said. “When I pulled up, that's when I saw all the police lights.”

The 4-year-old went by the nickname Nelly. She was a “perfect mixture of her mother and father,” the Tampa Bay Times wrote. Nelly liked to play with her puppy, jump on the couch and watch the cartoon “Shimmer and Shine,” according to the obituary her family wrote.

“She loved to help daddy work on the car,” Zoller said. “She would hand me tools. But she also really liked doing her makeup.”

Zoller did not speak ill of her mother. He explained he was in high school when Nelly was conceived and that his parents helped him with his daughter. If it weren’t for them, he would have had to drop out of school.

“She was extremely close to them and would get so excited when she got to stay at her nana's house,” he said. “She was attached to her nana's hip.”

Nelly’s death is tragic, but it’s not uncommon. One child is shot every 17 hours in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times wrote in February. From 2010 to 2015, almost 3,200 children under the age of 18 were killed or injured by guns. Firearms were responsible for the death of 475 kids during that time span.

“This is a major problem for our children,” Dr. Judy Schaechter, chair of the pediatrics department at the University of Miami Health System, told the Tampa Bay Times. “I call it America’s most preventable disease.”

Police, however, didn’t have an official number on how many children were shot each year. “We have an epidemic,” Dr. Leopoldo Malvezzi, trauma director at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, said. “And nobody is doing anything about it.”

Gun deaths were the No. 6 way children died in 2015. Nearly 80 percent of the kids shot between 2010 and 2015 were teenagers, about 30 youths under the age of 5 were treated for firearm-related injuries every year.

Most of the kids hurt or killed were boys. Nearly two-thirds of them were black. Most of the incidents were recorded as assaults, accidents or self-injury.

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