Grandmother disputes police report that boy was shot with gun left on vehicle's console


The grandmother of 5-year-old Giovanni Kopystenski, who died after shooting himself with his father’s gun Monday night, contends a police report is wrong about the weapon’s location.

Rena Kopystenski said what happened to her grandson while in a vehicle with his father “wasn’t just an accident. It was a nightmare.”

A Las Vegas police report said the gun was resting on the center console of Alex Kopystenski’s 1999 GMC Suburban and was easily accessible; but the grieving woman said her son was always responsible about his gun and never kept it loose around Giovanni, who was autistic and had limited speaking ability.

“He did everything he could to save him,” Rena Kopystenski said Wednesday. “We had this boy for such a short time. We can’t explain how devastated we are.”

She described her grandson as “the greatest gift God ever created.”

Giovanni was in the front passenger seat of Alex Kopystenski’s Suburban while in a Walgreens drive-through Monday night at Durango Drive and Warm Springs Road.

According to the police report, the boy found the .40 caliber Glock handgun on the center console. The gun went off. Police said the boy sustained a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and died early Tuesday.

Rena Kopystenski said her son is a doting father who has been “destroyed” by the loss of his 5-year-old son.

Alex Kopystenski drove his injured son to Spring Valley Hospital. The boy was then taken to University Medical Center, where he died.

The Glock used in the shooting was registered to Alex Kopystenski, 31, of Las Vegas.

Kopystenski was arrested and charged with felony child endangerment late Monday. He was released on bail Tuesday from the Clark County Detention Center.

In the arrest report, police said a family friend, David Jones, was in the backseat when the shooting happened.

Jones told police that Alex Kopystenski often kept his handgun out and unsecured while at home and usually carried a gun on his person.

Jones also told police that the Glock had been sitting on the GMC’s center console before the shooting.

“While Jones was talking to the pharmacist at the drive-up window, he heard a gunshot,” the police report said. “Jones turned and saw Giovanni bleeding from the head and saw Alex pick up a gun from between the seats. Jones tried to stop the bleeding as Alex drove to the hospital.”

When detectives requested an interview, Alex Kopystenski refused and requested a lawyer.

Kopystenski has had numerous encounters with local law enforcement that resulted in drug and weapons charges.

Rena Kopystenski said Alex, a disc jockey who goes by the name DJ Lexo, had a lucrative career performing at nightclubs on the Strip and around the country. He carried a gun to protect himself, she said.

“He has had the right to bear arms since he was 18,” she said. “It’s an unfortunate situation the way society is today. People in the public eye need to protect themselves so much.”

Rena Kopystenski said Giovanni was autistic but thrived because her son, a single father, sought extensive treatments and therapy for him.

Alex Kopystenski had full custody of Giovanni because he could accommodate his special needs, Rena Kopystenski said. Giovanni’s mother also played an active role in the boy’s life, she said.

Jones told police that Giovanni required constant supervision and was “constantly getting into things.”

Giovanni’s father took him to Walgreens Monday night to give others in the house a break, Jones told police.

The father and son lived with Rena Kopystenski in her Rhodes Ranch home near Durango Drive and the Las Vegas Beltway.

The grandmother said Giovanni was “always into mischief” but was playful and a great swimmer.

“He didn’t have any fear,” she said. “If you walked down the stairs, he would take the banister. He was just that kind of kid.”

She also told of Giovanni’s love of Thomas the Tank Engine and McDonald’s chicken nuggets. “If you were out with him and didn’t stop at McDonald’s, you were in trouble.”

 

Contact reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

 

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