PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man jailed in the fatal shooting of his 22-month-old stepson gave differing accounts of how the death occurred, police said in court papers.
Harrison Marshman Jr., of Pittsburgh, called 911 about 5 p.m. Tuesday and reported that an infant had shot himself, police said in a criminal complaint charging Marshman with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of a child.
Marshman told police, "Help me. Help me. I didn't mean to do it. It was an accident," as they arrived at the scene, the complaint said.
Paramedics took the boy, Josiah Taylor, to nearby Allegheny General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later, police said. The boy had a gunshot wound to the chest.
Marshman initially told police the boy grabbed Marshman's loaded weapon from a couch and that the gun fired when Marshman tried to take it away. Later, Marshman told police the gun was partially unloaded and the gun fired as Marshman tried to clear the chamber.
"More specifically, Mr. Marshman stated that once the victim first grabbed the firearm from the couch, Mr. Marshman took the firearm out of his hands and removed the magazine," a metal sleeve that holds the gun's bullets, police said.
Marshman then put the gun back on the couch and was looking at his cellphone when he saw the boy playing with the gun again, according to the complaint.
That's when Marshman "again removed the firearm from the child's hands and attempted to clear the live round from the chamber," police said.
Marshman was attempting to pull the gun's slide — which would eject the bullet from the gun's firing chamber — when he accidentally pulled the trigger while the gun was aimed at the boy, police said.
Criminal homicide is an umbrella charge, meaning prosecutors could try to prosecute Marshman for crimes ranging from first-degree murder — a premeditated killing carrying life in prison — to involuntary manslaughter — an accidental killing caused by reckless behavior that carries no more than five years in prison.
Online court records do not list an attorney for Marshman, who faces a Sept. 11 preliminary hearing.