Tustin : Young Shooting Victim in Stable Condition

A 9-year-old Northern California girl was reported in stable condition in a Santa Ana hospital Wednesday after her sister accidentally shot her in the neck with a .44-caliber magnum revolver that the girls found while visiting a Tustin-area home, a sheriff's spokesman said.

The girl, Melissa Delfrancia, underwent emergency surgery on Tuesday at United Western Medical Center-Santa Ana shortly after the shooting.

Melissa had been playing with her sister, Natallie, 8, in the home of their aunt and uncle, Dana and Laurie Delfrancia, who live in the 18500 block of Auburn Avenue, an unincorporated area north of Tustin. The sisters live with their parents, Linda and John Delfrancia, in Bass Lake, a small town north of Fresno near Yosemite National Park.

The shooting occurred after Linda Delfrancia had brought her daughters to visit their father, who has been working and living at his brother Dana's house during an extensive remodeling.

In one of the rooms, the girls found the pistol under a bed, apparently left there by a construction worker who had also been living in the house, according to Sheriff's Lt. Richard J. Olson. The gun discharged while Natallie was holding it, striking Melissa in the neck, Olson said.

The parents were both at the home at the time of the shooting but were unaware that there was a gun in the house, sheriff's officials said.

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