An 18-year-old man was arrested and charged with capital murder in the shooting death of his 3-year-old stepson.
Police answered a phone call from a trailer home in rural Clay County, Texas, on May 24, where witnesses said Dominic Tra’Juan Castro was jumping on a bed, causing a gun that was placed on the bed to accidentally discharge.
Police, however, found that wasn’t the case.
George Coty Wayman, 18, was arrested on May 25 after witnesses said he pointed the firearm at Dominic and told him he would shoot him if he didn’t stop jumping on the bed, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Bellevue was arrested last week and his bail was set at $505,000, KDFX-TV reported. Dominic was taken to a hospital in Wichita Falls, where he died on Wednesday morning.
Sheriff Kenny Lemons said Wayman, whose last name is tattooed above his right eye, was charged after the evidence didn’t match witnesses’ statements.
“Investigators interviewed eyewitnesses in the bedroom at the time of this incident and have determined that Wayman is the individual that pointed and discharged the handgun that caused the death of the victim,” according to the arrest warrant obtained by CBS News.
The boy’s biological father is currently in prison for multiple convictions and was denied parole earlier this year, KDFX reported.
Part of a larger trend
Dominic’s death highlights an unsettling trend across the United States, where more than 150 children were killed by guns in 2015.
The Gun Violence Archive says that 166 children 11 or younger have been killed or injured by guns in the U.S. in 2016. On May 26, an 11-year-old child was shot by a 10-year-old in Roanoke, Virginia, WDBJ-TV reported.
According to another advocacy group Everytownresearch.org, between 2007 and 2011, an average of 62 children under the age of 14 were accidentally shot and killed every year.
The site says:
From December 2012 to December 2013, at least 100 children were killed in unintentional shootings — almost two each week, 61 percent higher than federal data reflect. And even this larger number reflects just a fraction of the total number of children injured or killed with guns in the U.S. each year, regardless of the intent.
About two-thirds of these unintended deaths — 65 percent — took place in a home or vehicle that belonged to the victim’s family, most often with guns that were legally owned but not secured. Another 19 percent took place in the home of a relative or friend of the victim.
More than two-thirds of these tragedies could be avoided if gun owners stored their guns responsibly and prevented children from accessing them. Of the child shooting deaths in which there was sufficient information available to make the determination, 70 percent (62 of 89 cases) could have been prevented if the firearm had been stored locked and unloaded. By contrast, incidents in which an authorized user mishandled a gun — such as target practice or hunting accidents — constituted less than thirty percent of the incidents.