A Chicago man who bought a revolver to protect his family against his former gang associates faces charges after his 6-year-old son accidentally shot and killed his 3-year-old brother with the weapon, CNN reports.
Michael Santiago, 25, was charged with felony child endangerment causing death at his first court appearance on Oct. 18. Investigators say Santiago is a former gang member who bought the revolver illegally after he testified against another gang member in a murder trial.
Santiago was at work while the children's grandfather, Israel LaSalle, was watching his two sons at Santiago's home at around 9:05 p.m. on Oct. 17, according to ABC 7. LaSalle says he asked the boys to go downstairs to get something to clean up after the dog when he heard a shot ring out.
"I heard a pop, you know, like somebody had shot, so I opened the door and I look out and he was running up the stairs and he told me somebody shot his brother," LaSalle said.
The 3-year-old, Eian, later died at Mount Sinai Hospital. LaSalle said he was unaware Santiago kept a loaded firearm in the house.
"You know how kids are, they get into everything," LaSalle said. "There is not a safe place where you can put a gun where a kid can't reach it or find it."
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the 6-year-old found the loaded revolver above a refrigerator and accidentally shot his younger brother. Prosecutors say Santiago had shown the weapon to his older son in the week before the shooting.
LaSalle said a loaded gun should have never been within his grandson's reach, although he does not think Santiago should be charged with a crime.
Prosecutors will need to prove that Santiago knowingly created an environment that could have resulted in harm to his children, according to CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson.