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Mesa parents of toddler who shot himself may face charges

Authorities intend to pursue charges against the parents of a toddler who wounded himself with a gun in May at an east Mesa home.

Around 3:40 pm on May 16, Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an emergency call about a 3-year-old boy who had shot himself at a home near East Main Street and South Crismon Road, according to the agency.

Deputies found the boy with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his head with the child’s mother and father present, the Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies rendered aid until the Fire Department arrived and he was taken in critical condition to a nearby hospital before being airlifted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the agency said.

The mother said she was seated at a table doing homework while the toddler was playing on a couch, and the father had left the living room to another room, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Following a loud noise that made her ears ring, the mother got up and found the boy lying on the couch surrounded by blood and a firearm by his face, the agency detailed.

The mother screamed for the father to come and help as she reached for her phone and tried to approach the child, according to the Sheriff’s Office. She said she knew the father kept his pistol in the couch cushions, according to the agency.

The seriousness of the child’s injuries prompted sheriff’s homicide detectives to investigate, the agency mentioned.

The father told detectives he normally carried the pistol on him and would place it on top of the gun safe because children could not reach it, according to the Sheriff’s Office. However, he left the firearm in the couch where he slept the night before and told the detectives, “I didn’t even think about it, if I’m going to be honest with you, that’s my fault. I take full responsibility, it could have been avoided, if I would’ve just been a little more responsible,” the agency said in a statement.

Medical staff stabilized the boy, and he was placed into rehabilitation for recovery at Phoenix Children’s, according to the sheriff’s office.

“It is the intention of the Homicide Unit, barring any future information, to submit charges against both the mother and father for Endangerment, due to knowingly and intentionally leaving a loaded firearm in the coach, where the child is known to play,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Endangerment involving a substantial risk of imminent death is a Class 6 felony. In all other cases, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor,” the offense’s state classification reads.

According to the most recent data released by the Arizona Child Fatality Review Team report, published Nov. 15 by the Arizona Department of Health Services, firearms caused the deaths of 59 children in Arizona in 2022. The figure represented an increase over three years.