LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Metro Police say the shooting that left a 3-year-old boy dead near Charleston and Nellis boulevards on Arlington Street was as a result of the “mishandling of a firearm” by the child’s own mother.
The incident happened on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at approximately 7 p.m. Metro police say they received a 911 call that a boy had been accidentally shot and the mother was transporting him to Sunrise Hospital.
The boy was treated at the hospital but ultimately died from his injuries. The bullet struck him in the left temple, according to an arrest report. He was identified as John Jaffey.
Abuse Neglect Lt. Dave Valenta held a news briefing Thursday, Dec. 17 at 11:30 a.m. in front of LVMPD’s Headquarters to provide more information on this case.
Lt. Valenta says the mother of the child, Jasmin Vargas, 25, was legally in possession of a newly acquired firearm and when “showing it off to some friends” with children nearby, she mishandled the firearm, shooting and killing her own child.
A witness told police that Vargas fired a shot as she was trying to remove the magazine.
But a taped interview conflicts with that account.
Vargas, a friend identified as Jessica Rivera, and Rivera’s sister, Fabiola Arvayo had been talking about car burglaries in Rivera’s neighborhood. Vargas went to her car and retrieved a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and showed it to the others.
Vargas gave the gun to Arvayo, who turned it over in her hand while looking at it. “Jessica told Fabiola not to pull the trigger. Jasmin stated she took the firearm from Fabiola, removed the safety, pointed the firearm in front of her with her right hand and stated, ‘There’s nothing in there.’ Jasmin then pulled the trigger and fired one round, striking John in the head,” according to the arrest report.
Vargas told detectives she didn’t know there was a round in the chamber.
According to the arrest report, the boy was six feet in front of her when the gun fired.
Vargas bought the gun about a month ago, and had fired two shots in the desert on Tuesday at the far west end of Lake Mead Boulevard.
She said she had no experience loading the weapon — her boyfriend had loaded it for her.
“Regardless of the circumstances, the intent accidental … they’re all reviewed, there are additional consequences that come with the responsibility of proper gun ownership and handling,” said Lt. Valenta.
Vargas was booked Wednesday night on a charge of child abuse with substantial bodily harm, including death. The child abuse charge relates to the act of pointing the gun in the direction of the child before it went off.
“She just did not understand the paramount responsibility of gun ownership, and the dangers,” added Lt. Valenta.
Police say firearm owners should be knowledgeable of their weapons and store them in a responsible manner. LVMPD recommends that all new gun owners take basic firearms training and familiarization courses.
“All of these incidents are preventable,” said Abuse Neglect Lieutenant Dave Valenta regarding the tragic shooting of the 3-year-old child.
Lt. Valenta stressed the importance of securing firearms in your home no matter the age of people in the home.
“We are in no way trying to infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment right, we are just trying to stress the responsibility that comes with that … that a gun can take somebody’s life,” said Lt. Valenta.
According to 8 News Now’s Vanessa Murphy, Jasmin Vargas was a no show in court today.
According to the judge, she refused to be transported. Another one of Vargas’ children was present at the time of the shooting, pointing to trauma for the surviving child, according to the court. The judge also noted a prior arrest, but no conviction history.
Police say a woman was walking with her friends and her child in an apartment complex parking lot, and an adult in the area was “manipulating” a firearm. That is when the police say the gun went off and hit the 3-year-old Hispanic boy.
The child was taken by family to Sunrise Hospital, where he died.
According to police, Metro’s Abuse and Neglect division is investigating the incident.
LVMPD held a news briefing Wednesday night at 11 p.m at Pacific Legends Apartments on 1300 S. Arlington Street to provide details on the investigation. LVMPD Lt. David Valenta, Special Victims Section gave no word if the person who fired the gun was related to the child.
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No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting at this time. This is all the information we have at this time. Please check back for updates.