The mother of a 2-year-old boy who fatally shot his 9-year-old brother in the head had previously allowed her younger son to hold the gun, police said.
Authorities say Wendy Lavarnia, 28, even let the child practice pulling the trigger of the weapon when it was unloaded.
When police in Phoenix, Arizona responded to a shooting at the family's home on Monday, Lavarnia told investigators she had placed an un-holstered 9 mm handgun on a bed within the reach of her 2-year-old son, according to a probable cause statement.
The toddler, who was on the bed with his 4-year-old brother, picked up the gun and fired it, accidentally striking his 9-year-old brother in the head as he played video games a few feet away, authorities said.
The victim was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was placed on life support, but he succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday, cops said.
“Wendy described allowing the two year old (sic) to practice pulling the trigger of this gun when empty on previous occasions,” the probable cause statement said.
Lavarnia’s 1-year-old daughter was also in the home at the time of the shooting, but it was unclear if she was in the room when her brother fired the gun, officials said.
The mother was charged with four counts of child abuse—one for each of her four children in the home—and one count of murder, according to online records.
At her first court appearance on Tuesday, Lavarnia reportedly asked the judge if she could go to the hospital to check on her son, who would later die of his injuries.
Lavarnia was told she would have to first post $25,000 bond, which had been set for the child abuse charges.
She has since been charged with murder, which carries a $1 million bond, online records show.
The victim’s father, 31-year-old Kansas Lavarnia, was arrested on suspicion of misconduct with a weapon for possessing a gun in the family home, despite having previous theft and possession of burglary tools convictions and a three-year prison sentence that barred him from owning a weapon, KPHO-TV reported.
Authorities said he knew there was a gun in the home.
He was taken into custody after arriving home during the shooting investigation Monday.
Online records show he was charged with one count of child abuse, hindering prosecution and murder. His bond was also set at $1 million.
Both parents are due in court next week.