Cops: Boy, 9, Shot Dead by 2-Year-Old Brother

Mother told cops she had let boy play with empty gun
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 22, 2017 12:07 AM CDT
Cops: Mom Let Boy, 2, Handle Gun Before Fatal Shooting
This booking photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff shows Wendy Lavarnia.   (Maricopa County Sheriff)

A 9-year-old Arizona boy shot in the head by his 2-year-old brother with their mother's handgun died Tuesday, and their mother told police she had previously let the toddler handle the gun when it wasn't loaded, authorities say. Landen Lavarnia was declared dead at a Phoenix hospital, where he had been since the Monday shooting. The mother, Wendy Lavarnia, 28, was jailed on child abuse charges. She told police she had put her loaded gun on a bed within reach of her 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons while she turned to get a holster, according to court records. That's when the 2-year-old grabbed the gun and shot her 9-year-old son, who was playing video games a few feet away, police said.

Lavarnia told police she had allowed "the 2-year-old to practice pulling the trigger of this gun when empty on previous occasions," the records showed. Lavarnia appeared in court briefly before the boy was declared dead and asked the judge whether she could go to the hospital to see him, but the judge said she couldn't get out of jail without posting a $25,000 bond, the AP reports. The father, Kansas Lavarnia, arrived home as police investigated the shooting. He was arrested because he was barred from having a gun in the family home because of a theft conviction. He was later ordered released on his own recognizance because he isn't accused of directly causing harm in the shooting. (More child shootings stories.)

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