MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) --The 4-year-old boy who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound outside a marijuana dispensary Tuesday had played with guns before, according to court documents obtained by KRDO.
We first reported when the El Paso County Sheriff's Office responded to Maggie's Farm in Manitou Springs on Tuesday for the reported shooting. Hours later, the boy's parents were arrested.
Carlos Perez told police that his 4-year-old son was interested in guns. Court documents show that there were two occasions in the past when the boy was holding a gun and one of his parents took it away from him once they noticed he had it. As he kept trying to play with the gun, Carlos told police that he let his son hold the unloaded firearm on Monday for a short time before taking it back and telling his son not to play with it.
On Tuesday, Carlos drove his wife and two young sons to the Maggie's Farm marijuana dispensary in Manitou Springs. He told police he loaded his firearm with ammunition and then put it in the front seat's open dashboard cubby before walking in to buy marijuana. Guns are not allowed inside the dispensary.
Carlos's wife, Ashlynne, told police that her 4-year-old son had a habit of unlocking himself from his car booster seat. When he unbuckled his booster seat on Tuesday as his dad went to buy marijuana, Ashlynne told him to re-buckle, but he didn't listen and climbed into the front driver's seat instead. Ashlynne told police she knew the gun was in the open front seat dashboard cubby. Ashlynne said after her son climbed into the front seat, she turned to look out the window toward the gas station and heard a loud boom. She looked over at her son and said she thought his eyes were looking in opposite directions. She started looking for an injury when she looked in his mouth and realized he shot himself. She started screaming and was too distraught to call 911. Others in the area ran over when they heard her screams and called 911 while trying to help the little boy.
KRDO spoke to one witness who told us she tried to check the boy's pulse after she heard his mother's screams. She said she could see blood. First responders rushed him to Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Court documents show that Carlos and Ashlynne Perez were each charged with one felony count of Child Abuse Resulting in Death because they knew the loaded gun was easy to access if someone was in the front seat, they knew their son could unbuckle his booster seat and climb into the front seat, and they knew he was likely to pick up a gun if he was near one. They were arrested Tuesday after their son died. Their bail was set at $10,000 each. They both posted bail the following day. Neither had a criminal record in Colorado prior to Tuesday.
KRDO spoke to local defense attorney Jeremy Loew. Loew said that the charges Carlos and Ashlynne Perez are facing could carry between 10 and 32 years in prison if a plea deal is not negotiated.
The couple is scheduled to appear in court to acknowledge what they're charged with on Thursday afternoon.
A small memorial is now forming outside the dispensary to honor the little boy who died there.