UPDATE: A 5- year-old is in intensive care, his father is in police custody, and the dad’s gun is being used as evidence in the criminal case against him. It’s all the result of an accidental shooting that could have ended up being fatal if it weren’t for police taking action.
A loaded black revolver is what evidence officers found in the back seat of an SUV owned by a 33 year-old father parked across the street from the St. Mary’s Park Houses, where he lives. Investigators said the dad stashed the gun in the vehicle before seeking help for his kindergarten-age son, who accidentally shot himself in the shoulder.
“It’s crazy,” said Christina Iglesia, a neighbor, who knows the five year-old victim and his family. “He’s a kid full of happiness. I just hope he pulls through.”
The injured boy ended up at Lincoln Hospital’s emergency room, but apparently not because of his father’s help. The dad got a ride for him and his son to the nearby 42nd Precinct, where they hailed a cop, who in turn got an ambulance to the scene fast.
Police kept the father, 33-year-old Denny Pantoja, at the precinct for questioning. It was there that he told them the full story about his two children getting hold of his illegal gun.
Police responded en masse at the family’s 11th floor apartment in the public housing complex, but they could not enter the home because of a family of pit bulls. Emergency Services officers were called in to remove one dog that easily filled up the back seat of a police cruiser.
Her two puppies were also removed from the home that officers then entered in search of more illegal weapons.
The family that lives in the home where the 10:30 A.M. shooting took place is well known in the neighborhood. The father, whom neighbors call Papa Smurf because of his beard and body type, is particularly popular.
Some who know him told PIX11 News that he was trying to protect his family by owning a gun, and the situation went awry. “He’s a good guy, you know?” said another family friend, who chose not to give his name. “As any man or family [would do, the gun] is safety. …That’s his family.”
For now, his family is broken up. The dad, who police sources say is likely to face a variety of charges, is being questioned by police, and his son is in serious condition.
Police say the father is being charged with criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child.