Parents Arrested After Toddler Fatally Shoots 9-Year-Old Brother In Head

The mother allowed her two-year-old son to play with the gun on previous occasions. 

By Benjamin H. Smith

The parents of the two-year-old boy who fatally shot his nine-year-old brother in the head have been arrested on charges related to the older boy’s death. Wendy Lavarnia, 28, was charged with four counts of child abuse, while her husband, 31-year-old Kansas Lavarnia, is facing a weapons charge for being a prohibited possessor, due to a prior felony conviction. According to CBS News, court records claim Wendy Lavarnia “described allowing the two-year-old to practice pulling the trigger of this gun when empty on previous occasions.”

Emergency responders were called to the Lavarnia family home in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday afternoon. Wendy later told investigators the loaded gun lay on her bed, easily within the reach of two of her four children: her sons ages two and four.  Her nine-year-old son Landen was standing nearby, playing video games. As she went to retrieve a holster for the firearm, she heard a gunshot. When she turned back around, she saw her two-year-old son holding the gun and Landen with a gunshot wound to the head. He died from his injuries Tuesday evening.

Kansas Lavarnia was not home at the time of the shooting. According to CBS affiliate KPHO-KTVK-TV, he was convicted in 2009 for theft and possession of burglary tools, for which he served three years in jail. Because of his prior conviction, Kansas is prohibited from possessing a firearm but knew there was a gun in the house. The fate of the Lavarnia’s other three children is unknown at this time and there is the possibility that more charges will be filed against the parents pending further investigation.

[Photo: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office]

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