Police in El Paso County, Colorado have arrested a couple after their 4-year-old child allegedly fatally shot himself in front of his mother and his sibling with a gun he found inside their family car earlier this week.
Ashlynne and Carlos Perez, aged 25 and 26, respectively, were each charged with criminally negligent child abuse resulting in death and booked into the El Paso County Jail, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) said in a statement released Tuesday.
According to police, officers of the Manitou Springs Police Department were responding to a report of a shot being fired at the 400 block of Manitou Avenue Tuesday when they discovered the couple’s deceased child. An investigation by the EPSO determined that the child had suffered from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Carlos told police he had left his wife and his two children in their family car while he ran inside marijuana dispensary Maggie’s Farm, KKTV reported, citing court documents.
The boy had freed himself from his booster seat and climbed into the driver’s seat of the car, according to an arrest affidavit. Ashlynne looked away from the child for a moment before hearing a loud boom, which prompted her to inspect the boy for any injuries.
“At that time, Ms. Perez looked inside his mouth and noticed the injury,” the affidavit said.
Both parents told investigators that their son had been familiar with the gun, which Carlos had loaded and stashed inside an open glovebox, as per KKTV.
Additionally, the couple informed authorities that the boy had played with the gun before, according to court documents. Investigators learned that the child had played with the gun two other times before his parents noticed and took the weapon away.
“[B]oth parents should have been aware of the danger of this occurring and the probability that [the child] would pick up a firearm within his vicinity,” the arrest affidavit stated.
“Both Mr. Perez and Ms. Perez were aware of the loaded firearm being out in the open of the vehicle where the [child] could easily access it if he was not in the backseat of the vehicle. Both parents were also aware [the child] was capable of exiting his booster seat and gaining access to the front seat of the vehicle. Neither placed the firearm in a safe location despite knowing the past history of [the child] and firearms resulting in this incident occurring,” the affidavit continued.