Boy (4) accidentally shot dead by brother (6) in US

Boys' mother arrested after son is fatally shot in head

new jersey, east orange

File photo of Norman Street in East Orange, where the shooting took place | Image: Google Maps

A four-year-old boy has been shot dead in the US by his six-year-old brother.

The older boy was playing with his mother's gun yesterday morning when he accidentally shot his brother in the head at their home in East Orange, New Jersey.

The younger boy was rushed to hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead at 4.25pm.

It is not yet clear how the child got hold of the firearm, or whether it was legally owned. 

The brothers' 22-year-old mother was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child, as well as a weapons violation.

She was ordered to be held at a county prison on $310,000 bail, a local prosecutor told reporters.

A city spokeswoman told New Jersey news outlet NJ.com that the mother was in the house when the shooting happened.

"This is a terribly unfortunate incident," East Orange Mayor Lester E Taylor III said in an earlier statement.

"Our thoughts are with [the boy] and his family."