Mom frantic in 911 call on son's shooting; she's now charged

Posted at 8:08 PM, Apr 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-19 23:08:06-04

Investigators released an emotional 911 recording Wednesday of a Phoenix woman saying her 2-year-old son had shot her 9-year-old son and listening to instructions on how to try to revive the wounded child.

Wendy Lavarnia, who was later charged with murder along with her husband in their son Landen's death, sounded frantic when she reported the March 20 shooting, saying her younger son found a handgun that she left on the bed and accidentally shot his older brother in the head.

"He was shot in the head -- he is 9 year old -- by his baby brother," the mother told a Fire Department operator. "I got my gun down and left it on the bed like an idiot. And my son -- I didn't think he could fire it, and he shot it."

An agonizing cry can be heard in the background earlier in the call, but it's unclear who was crying.

Police became suspicious when they found inconsistencies in the mother's account. Authorities say the parents were charged with first-degree murder because they delayed medical care for the child while they cleaned up evidence in the house.

Police spokesman Sgt. Vince Lewis said Wednesday that the investigation hasn't revealed who fired the shot that killed the boy.

Wendy and Kansas Lavarnia have pleaded not guilty. Clare Schum, an attorney representing the mother, and Jamie Jackson, a lawyer for the father, didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

During the four-minute emergency call, a Fire Department operator told Wendy Lavarnia to apply direct pressure on the child's wound. After she said she didn't think her son was breathing, the operator instructed her to put the child on his back so she could do chest compressions.

The call ended with another operator saying it looked like authorities were just pulling up at the house.

Landen Lavarnia was brought to a hospital, where he died.

Police previously said the lack of visible blood and the extent of blood residue at the home implied that a significant amount of time had passed before authorities were called. Police have declined to say whether they believe the boy would be alive had authorities been alerted sooner.

Investigators said they became suspicious of Kansas Lavarnia after he showed up at the house with a crudely bandaged gunshot wound on his upper arm. His wound looked to have been punctured multiple times, possibly with a screwdriver, to mask the injury, authorities said.