Salem, Indiana - A father is dead after police said he was shot by his 3-year-old son.

According to Indiana State Police, around 9:55 p.m. Friday Michael Bayless, 33, was found dead in a home in the 3600 block of Vincennes Trail.

Bayless' wife, his three children and another child related to the family were home when investigators found his body.

  • Detectives and crime scene investigators stated after a preliminary investigation they believe Bayless was watching television with two of the children when the 3-year-old found Bayless' loaded handgun and accidentally shot him.

    Indiana State Police Sergeant Jerry Goodin said, "There's a lot of things we're still asking questions about and we've still go to get some answers. But, right now, really the only thing that we know is the child was able to gain access to [sic] the handgun. The handgun did discharge. It did strike Michael Bayless causing a fatal wound to him."

    People who knew Bayless said he had recently bought the home and was fixing up the home on weekends. Bill Smith knew Bayless and owns a general store nearby. Smith described him as, "A really nice person." Smith went on to tell WAVE 3, off camera, "The whole family was nice. It's a sad day in a nice family's life."

    Bonnie Sterba, of Cutlerville, MI is from Salem and was in town visiting. She was saddened by the tragic course of events.

    "It's very sad. It's sad for the little boy and it's sad for the father, the mother, the other children in the family. It's terrible," said Sterba. "The tragic (thing) is, right now, he doesn't understand what happened."

    Goodin said this tragic accident could have been prevented.

    "We have no reason to believe that there's any foul play involved. We think that this is purely a tragic accident that happened. It was an accident that could have been prevented if the handgun had been out of reach of a 3-year-old child. Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way," said Goodin.