LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) After a toddler fatally shot himself inside a motel room on the Evangeline Thruway, the child’s father says he wants justice for his son.

Mace Copeland Jr. is a local coach and educator but most importantly he says he was a father to 4-year-old Princeton Mace Copeland. 

“I am torn because I was just with my son, and I’m just like, how could this happen?” Copeland says.

He remembers his son’s personality.

“He was a happy kid, he was helpful, he loved to help if I was in the kitchen cooking, he was like daddy, what can I help you with.”

Lafayette Police say the toddler was staying at the local motel with a family member.

Copeland tells News 10 that his son was with his mother, and adds that he has been told that she was out of the room placing a delivery order when the incident occurred.

His daughter, age 5 and a 6 month old were also in the room when the shooting occurred, Copeland said.

Lafayette police say when they arrived the toddler was suffering from a gunshot wound in the abdomen.

“My biggest concern was why did she have a gun within reach of him. You know, if you have a gun, you should be really mindful of how you carry a firearm.” Copeland said.

He tells News 10 he did not allow his son or his other children to even play with toy guns. 

Lafayette Police Spokesperson Sgt. Robin Green wants to take this time to remind parents about gun safety around children. 

“Have gun safety classes with your kids. Tell them why you shouldn’t play with them. Explain to them what could happen if you play with guns,” Green said.

Copeland says after losing his son his life is now forever changed and says he hopes justice will be served. 

“The biggest thing that I want to see is her being prosecuted. I feel that she’s negligent. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t feel she’s innocent,” he said. 

Lafayette Police say say the incident has been ruled accidental, however they are doing an autopsy to further investigate. 

Following our 5 p.m. reporting, the toddler’s mother reached out to News 10 to give her side of the story. It will air later tonight during our 10 p.m. newscast.