A 9-year-old boy in Phoenix, Arizona was shot and killed by his 2-year-old brother and now the boy’s parents are facing charges because officials believe that they played a role in the death. Phoenix police state that they are working to confirm details of the tragedy that was provided by Wendy Lavarnia, 28, the boy’s mother.
Police have released, that 9-year-old Landen Lavarnia, who was shot in the head, was pronounced dead at an area hospital. The 9-year-old had been on life support since Monday, reports Azcentral.com.
Wendy Lavarnia and her husband, Kansas Lavarnia, 31, were both arrested. Wendy Lavarnia faces four counts of child abuse and Kansas Lavarnia, who has a criminal past, was arrested and charged with illegally possessing a firearm. Officials have still not been able to determine if the father was home at the time of the shooting.
Sgt. Vince Lewis, of the Phoenix Police Department, said that the parents could face additional charges. Phoenix police responded to a call at the Lavarania home around 3 p.m. on Monday. When police arrived on the scene they discovered the 9-year-old had been shot once in the head.
According to Phoenix police, Wendy Lavarnia told authorities that she had put the 9mm handgun, which was loaded, on the bed beside her 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons. The mother states that the 2-year-old child picked up the gun and fired it striking his 9-year-old brother, who was playing video games a few feet away, in the head, reports ABC News.
The mother informed police that in the past she had let the 2-year-old child practice pulling the trigger when the gun was unloaded. She was arrested and charged with child abuse because the shooting death of her son was a situation that she created.
Phoenix officials state that the investigation into the 9-year-old’s tragic death is ongoing and charges could change in the future.
The Lavarnia’s neighbor, Joan Turner, expressed sympathy for the family. She told local media that the situation was “tragic.” She added that if this had happened to her family that she would be devastated and that it was devastating to her knowing it had happened next door.
Turner called the children’s father, Kansas Lavarnia, a hard worker. She shared that she did not often speak to him, but that her granddaughter would at times take her dog to the Lavarnia’s and she would play with their children.
Marie Mosely, another neighbor of the Phoenix family, called Kansas Lavarnia a “nice guy.” She says that the family would always speak to her when they saw her. Mosley added that she never saw the 9-year-old, but at times she would see the 2-year-old running around the yard in a diaper, reports FOX 6 Now.
Another neighbor of the Phoenix family, Birsa Betty, told local media that she has lived in the neighborhood for 57 years. She shared that the neighborhood had never had any real problems before, except for one drug incident years ago.
By Tammy Marie Rose
Photo Courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office