A Utah father is facing a homicide charge because his 2-year-old son found the dad's easily accessible, fully-loaded handgun and fatally shot himself in the head.
Tasman William Maile, 27, was indicted Thursday on a charge of child abuse homicide. He was originally charged with manslaughter. He's also facing charges of obstruction, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and drug distribution, according to KSTU in Salt Lake City.
The shooting in Salt Lake City happened just before midnight on May 26, according to court documents, when a witness heard a loud noise like a thump, and saw a man wearing a shirt covered in blood running toward a dumpster.
The man had his elder son with him and was holding a blue bucket, which he threw away, according to court documents.
Officers responded and found the 2-year-old with the wound to his head, unresponsive and unconscious. Emergency workers transported the child to a nearby hospital, where he passed away three days later, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The toddler allegedly shot himself with a Walther CCP pistol.
When police searched the dumpster, they found the blue bucket, which had a magazine for the gun in it and a two glass jars with more than 10 ounces marijuana in them, along with a digital scale. They also found a backpack with an empty case for the Walther and two 9 mm handguns - one in a case and one in a holster, according to court documents.
Police found the Walther in the master bedroom of the house. The room had clothes everywhere and loose bedding on the floor, court documents say.
Maile told police he was sleeping with his sons "cuddled up together," and he admitted he kept a fully-loaded gun nearby with the safety off. The gun was either next to him or on the floor nearby before the shooting, he told police.
It was the sound of the gun that woke him up, Maile said. He told police his son shot himself in the head after he got ahold of the gun. He admitted to police he threw the other guns away in the dumpster.
Maile said he was watching his sons while his wife was away.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told the Tribune that factors such as how Maile failed to store his gun contributed to the homicide charge.
"This is a little bit different than somebody who takes their weapon and puts it in a case up in the closet somewhere, hidden behind the clothes, and some child inadvertently finds it and shoots themselves," Gill said.
[Photo: Salt Lake County Jail]