September 30, 2016 – Arizona Republic
Avondale police say a 5-year-old boy is dead after a shooting on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
The news of the shooting shocked neighbors and friends who described the boy as “free-spirited” and “full of life.”
Police say a 5-year-old Avondale boy who died Wednesday morning shot himself in the head using his father’s handgun.
Avondale police had not released the boy’s name by Wednesday night, and a spokesman said no charges are pending as the investigation continues.
The shooting happened about 9:20 a.m. in an apartment near Seventh Street and Dysart Road.
The boy’s mother told police that she heard a bang and entered a bedroom to find her 5-year-old with an apparent gunshot wound. Also found in the room was a 9mm handgun that belonged to the boy’s father, who was not present, said Officer Ray Emmett, an Avondale police spokesman.
Emmett said two other children were home at the time, but an investigation determined no one else had been in the room with the boy when the gun was fired.
Officers attempted lifesaving efforts until Avondale Fire Department personnel arrived and took the boy to Abrazo West Campus in Goodyear, where he was pronounced dead, Emmett said.
Boy described as full of life
The shooting shocked friends and neighbors who described the boy as full of life.
Next-door neighbor Brittany Jones identified the boy’s mother as a single mom with three other children, ages 1, 3 and 4.
“She’s a very friendly and great person who I have become very close with,” Jones said of her neighbor of two years. “The boy was free-spirited and full of life. He was so smart.”
Jones has a 5-year-old son who was friends with the boy. The two would hang out in front of their houses, riding scooters, she said.
“I don’t know what to say to him,” Jones said as she was heading to the bus stop to pick up her son after school. “I will explain to him the seriousness of picking up something that you come across. But, honestly, how can I tell him what happened to his friend?”
Jones said she was surprised to hear that a gun was involved because she didn’t know if the family had a gun. Police have not yet released how the gun was in the home at the time of the shooting.
‘A young couple who cares about their family’
Neighbor Sophia Terry said she would see the boy’s father, who visits frequently, pick his son up at the bus stop often.
“They were a young couple who cares about their family,” Terry said. “Many parents around here let their kids run around and do whatever they want. They were different. They sat outside when the kids played and watched them.”
Terry said she has been neighbors with the family for three years.
“This neighborhood is just like any other neighborhood in the West Valley,” she said, saying that while she doesn’t have a gun in her home, she could see why others might. She said she has called police to the area about 10 times in the three years she has lived here.
“Just like watching your kids around water, you have to watch your kids around safety arms,” Emmett said. “There also have to been secondary measures in place such as where you keep the ammo and trigger locks.”