BLUEFIELD, W. VA. – Authorities are investigating how an 8-year-old boy mysteriously got locked inside a gun vault for 30 minutes in the firearms section of a Rural King store here Sunday afternoon. He was rescued by ripping out the lock when employees could not open it.

Fire Chief David Thompson of the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department said the boy did not lock himself in the safe, noting the handle that locks the vault has to be turned from the outside.

“We are not sure exactly how he got locked in,” said Thompson.

Store employees called for help after they heard him and could not unlock the safe. It took a locksmith and a rescue squad using a Jaws of Life tool to cut the lock from the safe and free the boy.

Concerned about the boy’s air supply in the confined space, a woman rescue worker fed oxygen into the vault through an opening in the bottom and talked to the boy throughout the effort to unlock the safe. He was also given ear plugs to block the drilling noise.

Thompson said the boy was fine if “a little scared.” Neither he nor his parents were identified. Authorities also did not say if they suspected foul play.

Rural King is a farm supply and hunting equipment store located in the Mercer Mall in southern West Virginia. Local store officials had no comment, referring questions to the chain’s national headquarters in Mattoon, Illinois. 

Details for this story were provided by the Bluefield, West Virginia, Daily Telegraph.

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