The parents of a 10-year-old boy who shot a 7-year-old girl in the mouth last month face multiple felony charges in connection with the incident because the .38-caliber pistol used by the child was not properly secured, a police report released today states.
According to the report, North Las Vegas residents David and Karen Wachner face one count each of child neglect with substantial bodily harm, reckless endangerment and child endangerment.
The report alleges the Wachners were at work and not at home the morning of May 21, when the boy shot the girl as the friends were playing “cops and robbers” at the home in the 500 block of Blackbird Knoll Court, near Centennial Parkway and Commerce Street.
North Las Vegas police Sgt. Tim Bedwell said the girl is out of the hospital and a tragedy was averted when the small-caliber bullet hit a tooth and fragmented. The shooting left a hole in the girl’s mouth, according to the report.
He said she was lucky to survive.
Bedwell said the incident is a prime example of how keeping unsecured guns inside the home can have serious consequences.
“So many people think this couldn’t happen to them in their home,” Bedwell said. “It does happen.”
He added that his department and other local police departments give out gun locks for free.
He said the boy will not be charged in the shooting, not even as a juvenile.
“There was never any indication he intended to hurt the girl,” Bedwell said.
“That, coupled with his age, really puts the responsibility in the hands of anyone negligent enough to let the child get a hold of that weapon,” he said.
A woman who identified herself as Mrs. Wachner slammed her front door this evening when a reporter tried to speak with her.
The report said the Wachners kept several unloaded guns unsecured inside their home including .27-caliber rifle, a .22-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun in addition to the pistol used in the shooting. The pistol was kept in a case next to the Wachners’ bed, while the rifles were kept in cases inside a closet, the report said.
According to the report, Karen Wachner told police her son was caught by an older sibling playing with a shotgun about a year ago.
“Karen stated that one of their daughters caught (him) playing with the shot gun about one year ago and her and David counseled him on the safety of the rifle but failed to keep them secured,” the report stated. The Wachners have two daughters, ages 17 and 14.
The report said the boy learned how to shoot the weapon by watching “CSI” on television.
David Wachner, 39, was jailed at the Clark County Detention Center on $40,000 bail. His wife was expected to turn herself in to police today, police said.
According to the report, the Wachners’ son has been staying home alone for about an hour on weekdays since about Christmas of 2008 and locking up the house before he heads to school.
The report said the child often goes over to the girl’s house before school and they return to his home where he picks up his books before getting on the bus.
The day of the shooting, the boy went to the girl’s house carrying the gun in a case. The girl’s mother, identified in the report as Carol Monk, asked him what was in the case, and the boy then removed the gun and pulled the slide back, showing Monk the gun was unloaded, the report said.
The report also said the boy told police Monk told him to get the gun out of the house because “her dogs did not like guns.”
Monk then told the boy to put the gun back where he found it before he and her daughter went to the bus stop.
Once inside the boy’s home, the girl asked him to play cops and robbers, the report said.
“They went upstairs where he chased her around,” the report said. “He then took the gun out of the case in his parents’ bedroom and put a bullet into a magazine.”
The report said the boy put a bullet he thought was blank — because “it was missing the front” — into the magazine. He then raised the gun and fired it four times without the gun going off. He then raised the gun again, pointed it at the girl’s face and pulled the trigger, firing the shot.
The injured girl then ran home.
Monk drove her daughter to the hospital, but only after she stopped by the boy’s house, knocked on the door, and screamed for him to give her his father’s cell phone number. The boy never answered.
That is when she called 911 and told the dispatcher that she was on her way to the hospital.
Christine Skorupski, a spokeswoman with Clark County Family Services, said she could not comment on whether her agency had previously responded to the Wachners’ home prior to the shooting. Also, she said she could not comment on if the Wachners’ children were in her agency’s care because of confidentiality laws concerning nonfatal shootings.
David Wachner’s initial appearance in court is scheduled for Wednesday.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638.