GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Gaston County Police investigated late into the night on Tuesday, piecing together clues of what led to a shooting in the 100 block of Cindy Lane.
A four-year-old boy was shot and killed.
“All of us are parents,” Sgt. Reggie Bloom said. “So it definitely has a soft spot in the heart that, regretfully, a young victim like that is just not going to have the life that he was promised.”
Police arrested three adults, Savannah Brehm, 22, Hector Mendoza, 22, and Keith Strughill, 21. Prosecutors said Brehm and Mendoza are the parents, and Strughill is the uncle.
During a court hearing, prosecutors said a loaded gun was on the home’s coffee table, and all three adults knew it was there with the safety off. The gun belonged to Strughill.
“He was leaving for work; he said he was going to put it up,” said Brehm during her first court appearance. “I thought he did, so I went back to my room.”
Strughill and Mendoza didn’t put the gun away, according to prosecutors.
Mendoza and Strughill left for work when the 5-year-old child and 4-year-old child found the weapon. The 5-year-old shot the 4-year-old, according to investigators.
“I want to give my son a funeral, but I have no money if I have to pay the bond,” added Brehm when speaking to the judge. “I thought he put it up, so I finished packing.”
Brehm said she was home packing and preparing to move when she heard the shot.
Savannah Brehm, Hector Mendoza, and Keith Strughill are facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, felony child abuse, and storing a firearm in a manner accessible to a minor.
Police said people need to be responsible gun owners, especially around young children.
“They can’t differentiate between a real gun and a fake gun,” Cpt. Billy Downey said. “So, we just ask that we take that temptation out of a child’s hands.”
Brehm and Mendoza had their bonds set at $250,000 each, while Strughill had his bond set at $400,000.