MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (KXRM) – Parents of a 4-year-old boy are behind bars after leaving their child in a car with a loaded gun when he shot himself Tuesday afternoon.
Around noon, the Manitou Springs Police Department in Colorado received multiple calls about a shot being fired in the 400 block of Manitou Avenue. When officers arrived, they found the child dead in the parking lot.
After the preliminary investigation, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) learned that while the father went to make purchases at Maggie’s Farm, a marijuana dispensary, the 4-year-old boy was with his mother and younger sibling in the car and discovered the gun. The boy suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.
Ashlynne Perez, 25, and Carlos Perez, 26, are in the El Paso County Jail.
When Ashlynne Perez was interviewed with the sheriff’s office, she told deputies that she saw the gun inside the car earlier in the day and said it was on the open dashboard cubby. According to the arrest affidavit, the 4-year-old boy unlocked himself from his booster seat in the back seat, which Perez said he had done before. She told her son to re-buckle, but he refused and climbed in the driver’s seat of the car.
In court documents, the boy’s mother had turned to look out the window in the opposite direction of the boy when she heard a loud boom.
When Carlos Perez was interviewed, he said when he got out of the car to purchase marijuana the kids were left in the care of his wife and that they were both secure in their car seats.
According to the arrest affidavit, he had shown the same gun to the 4-year-old the day before, but it was unloaded. Perez had mentioned that the boy had been interested in guns in the past and one of the parents would take the gun away. Perez had also told the boy not to play with it.
“This is a tragic investigation that not only affects the family of the victim, but it affects our community and our first responders,” EPSO said. “We want to remind the community to be sure to talk to your children about guns, even if you do not own guns. If you own guns, gun safety must be taught to all those that are near the gun, the gun must be stored unloaded, and locked up. All keys to the locks should be hidden. Our deepest condolences go to the family affected by this tragedy.”