Man accidentally shoots 3-year-old granddaughter

WEST COLUMBIA, Texas - A grandfather said he accidentally shot his 3-year-old granddaughter when he was aiming at a stray cat. 

Gary Van Ness lives on County Road 705 in West Columbia. He said his neighborhood is overrun with stray cats. Some cats, he said, even come inside his home uninvited. 

"The cat is brave enough to come in there and got him a couple of loaves of bread," said Van Ness. 

As he stepped off his porch Tuesday evening, he said he noticed a cat by his shed, so he grabbed his rifle and aimed. 

"I took the opportunity to shoot it," he said. 

However, Van Ness said he didn't realize his 3-year-old granddaughter, Brianna, and his son were standing just behind the shed near the Brazos River bank. The bullet missed the cat but sliced right through Brianna's leg. 

"The only thing I could think was getting her to the emergency room as quick as possible," said Van Ness.

After being treated at two area hospitals, Brianna showed Local 2 her stitches. She is expected to fully recover. 

Van Ness said the sound of her cries when he shot her is something no grandfather wants to hear. And knowing he caused that pain made Van Ness feel even worse.  

"It'll probably bother me the rest of my life," he said. "Thank God it wasn't any worse than what it was."

Brazoria County sheriff's investigators said, so far, they consider the shooting to be an accident, with no charges expected.  However, Van Ness said Brianna had her own punishment planned for him. He said Brianna told him she wanted to spank him and he told her he deserved it.  

"I'll even furnish the belt," said Van Ness.

Investigators said they reported the case to Children's Protective Services, which the sheriff's office said is standard with all injuries to a child. CPS said they have no plans to take custody of the child. They said in cases like this, they will work with the family to make a plan to make the home safer.  

Van Ness said he's already decided he'll start trapping the stray cats instead of shooting them.

Van Ness said Brianna's father has custody of her and they have been staying with Van Ness at his home for six months.  Investigators said they have not responded to any other disturbances at the home.

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