Phoenix police: 9-year-old shot by 2-year-old sibling dies, parents arrested

Posted at 3:06 PM, Mar 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 13:05:13-04

Phoenix police say a mother arrested after her 2-year-old son picked up her loaded hangun and shot his 9-year-old brother told investigators she previously allowed the toddler to practice pulling the trigger of the gun when it was unloaded.

The brief police statement about what 28-year-old Wendy Lavarnia reportedly said Monday about her 2-year-old son previously handling the gun is included in a probable cause statement filed with court officials for her initial court appearance.

According to Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Reda Bigler, the 9-year-old boy was shot in the head just before 3 p.m. near 35th Avenue and Cactus Road.

A Phoenix Police Department spokesman said the child was taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition. Tuesday evening police said the child, identified as Landen Lavarnia, had died from his injuries.

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Police say there were three other children in the home at the time with their mother.

Lavarnia's mother told officials that she placed the loaded gun on the bed near her 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons, and went to retrieve a holster. When she returned, she saw that her 2-year-old child was holding the gun and the 9-year-old victim had been shot. Lavarnia's 1-year-old daughter was also in the home at the time of the shooting.

A man who pulled up to the scene asking police officers "What happened to my kid?" was placed in handcuffs. Officials on the scene confirmed the man is the child's father, and later identified him as 31-year-old Kansas Lavarnia. 

Authorities said the incident remains under investigation. 

Wendy was booked into jail on four counts of child abuse for endangering her children with the loaded gun. Kansas was booked into jail on one count of being a prohibited possessor of a gun in the home. 

Police spokesman Sgt. Vince Lewis said investigators were looking into additional charges against the parents.

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