A father has been arrested after his six-year-old son took his gun from the top of their refrigerator and fatally shot his three-year-old brother in the head, according to police.
The boys were playing "cops and robbers" while at home with their grandfather in Humboldt Park, Chicago on Saturday evening when the older brother accidentally shot at Eian Santiago, according to the Chicago Tribune.
A relative carried the injured boy to a nearby hospital and he was transported to Mount Sinai hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
The boys' father, 25-year-old Michael Santiago, reportedly told police he was a former member of the Spanish Cobras gang and that he'd bought the gun illegally for protection after snitching on another gang member during a murder trial.
"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 said at a press conference on Sunday, the Tribune reported.
“About a week prior to the shooting, he showed his older son where he kept the gun. [Santiago] took the gun from on top of the refrigerator, unwrapped the pajama pants and explained to the six-year-old that the gun was only to be used by adults."
Santiago, who was working at a Papa Ray’s Pizza restaurant at the time of the shooting, does not have a firearm owner’s identification card or concealed carry license, the Tribune reported.
In court on Sunday, DiBella asked for $1 million bail. Judge James Brown told the court: "I'm sure the defendant did not intend for this to happen, but it happened."
Santiago was charged with felony child endangerment in connection with the shooting. His bail was set at $75,000 and he is expected to return to court on Friday.
On Sunday, the boys' mother posted a message on Facebook defending her husband.
"MY HUSBAND IS A GREAT HUSBAND N FATHER," she wrote. "WE LIVE IN A TERRIBLE NEIGHBORHOOD ANY GREAT MAN N FATHER WOULD [want] TO PROTECT HIS FAM."
She added: "THE GUN WAS PUT AWAY OK MY SON WAS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING N FOUND IT. N THOUGHT IT WAS A TOY... WE R A VERY CLOSE FAM N U HAVE NO IDEA WAT WE HAVE AN ARE GOING TO ENDURE! FOR GOD SAKE WE LOST A CHILD."
The boys' step-grandfather, Hector Salgado, told the Tribune that the six-year-old was "OK" after the ordeal.
"He doesn’t even remember," he said. "He doesn’t know nothing about it. He thinks his brother is in the hospital sick."