Father charged after child, 6, fatally shoots brother, 3, playing ‘cops & robbers’ in Chicago
The fatal incident happened shortly after 9:00pm local time on Saturday when the 6-year-old got a hold of a loaded revolver which was being stored on top of the refrigerator in his home, Chicago police reported on Sunday.
He then shot his 3-year-old brother in the head as they were playing “cops and robbers,” according to Chicago police.
The older brother then ran upstairs to tell his grandfather of the accident, who rushed downstairs to discover the scene of the tragedy.
“He was a beautiful kid. It’s real crazy,” the grandfather in tears, Israel LaSalle, said in an interview to local CLTV station. “That’s why parents should never have guns in the house.”
The boys’ 25-year-old father, Michael Santiago, was arrested and charged with a child endangerment. According to the police account, Santiago formerly belonged to the Spanish Cobras gang and has purchased the weapon as possible protection.
"The gun was purchased off the street. It was kept loaded, and it was wrapped in pajama pants on top of the refrigerator,” prosecutor Joseph DiBella told the court on Sunday, as Santiago appeared to face charges.
"The defendant previously showed the 6-year-old where the gun was kept, and in a videotape statement the defendant said he kept the gun for protection because he was a former gang member who snitched on a gang member in a murder trial."
The gun, a 32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, according to DiBella, did not have an owner's identification card. The defendant also lacked the concealed carry license. The police are in the process of tracing the weapon.
The court set bail for Santiago at $75,000 on Sunday after he was charged with “knowingly” storing the loaded gun in the house and making it accessible to his children. The accused is expected to return to court Friday.
Earlier this week, a toll aggregated by The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham, revealed that so far this year at least 43 news stories related to child casualties as a result of shootings. That is an average of one tragedy a week of children under four shooting either another person or themselves.