Man charged after Colorado toddler fatally shoots brother

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 30, 2011 7:53 PM
Man charged after Colorado toddler fatally shoots brother

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A Kansas man accused of leaving a loaded handgun where a 3-year-old Colorado boy found it and shot his 5-year-old brother dead was charged on Friday with felony child abuse.

Authorities said Adam Dean Laham, 23, left his loaded .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun unsecured while visiting the boys' home in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado earlier this month.

The toddler shot his brother in the chest after finding the weapon in a bedroom where Laham was staying, police said.

The boys' father heard the gunshot and raced to the bedroom, where he saw the 3-year-old holding the weapon. He performed CPR on his older son until an ambulance arrived, but the boy was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The 3-year-old told police he wanted to show his brother the gun and that he accidentally "shooted" his older sibling, according to the affidavit.

Laham, who is being held on a $40,000 bond, told police that the shooting "was totally my fault" because he had not stowed the handgun, an arrest warrant affidavit said.

Prosecutors charged him with reckless child abuse resulting in death. If convicted, he faces up to 48 years in prison.

Laham told investigators he went outside to smoke a cigarette, and gave the boys permission to play video games in the bedroom where he was staying. He told police he always sleeps with a loaded gun at his bedside, and forgot to secure it because he is unaccustomed to being around children.

"He does not have children and is not used to putting it away," the affidavit said.

The December 23 shooting was the first of two fatal gun deaths in Colorado involving 5-year-old children over the Christmas holiday.

On December 26, a 5-year-old girl in south-central Colorado was mortally wounded after the .45-caliber handgun she was handling in her parent's home discharged, said Captain Don Pinover, spokesman for the Fremont County Sheriff's Office.

Police consider that shooting accidental, but prosecutors were weighing whether to file criminal charges in that case, Pinover said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)