The incident unfolded at about 3 p.m. in the 600 block of K Street as the 5-year-old watched several other small boys in the neighborhood playing with toy guns in a nearby yard. He wanted to play along so he went into his home and found his parents' loaded revolver.
Meanwhile, a 21-year-old Aberdeen man was walking by when he saw the boys playing with their toy guns. As the man continued to walk past he saw the 5-year-old boy with what he thought was a squirt gun, said Chief Jeff Myers of the Hoquiam police.
The man watched the boy point the gun at the other children and then at him as he was about half a block away. The boy fired the gun once in the man's direction, at which point he realized the pistol was a real gun.
The man told police he had to move his leg to avoid being struck by the bullet. The boy immediately dropped the gun and ran back into his home.
Officers arrived and determined that the boy had taken his parents' handgun from inside the home. The parents cooperated with police and turned over the weapon, a .38 special revolver.
Officers searched the area but were unable to determine where the fired bullet had landed.
"It is very clear this was a situation within inches of being tragic," said Myers. "It is a good reminder to secure firearms at all times from the hands of children."