6-year-old fatally shoots grandfather - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

6-year-old fatally shoots grandfather

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. (WSVN) -- Authorities are investigating after a 6-year-old boy shot his grandfather during a family barbecue, Sunday.

Police arrested Juan Manuel Martinez, Jr. after his 6-year-old nephew discharged Martinez' unattended rifle and killed Martinez' father, Juan Manuel Martinez, Sr. "It's not his fault. He didn't know what he was doing. He's just a little boy. I love him. He's my family. I love all my family," said Martinez as he was embraced by his brother Marco Martinez.

The victim's family describe Martinez, Sr. as a hardworking man who made his money driving trucks after he arrived in the U.S. from Mexico. His family said he also volunteered his time as a youth baseball couch.

On Sunday, Martinez, Sr. and his son were having a barbecue with family and friends at their home off Northwest Fourth Street and Eighth Avenue in Homestead. According to police, Martinez, Jr. was showing off his assault rifle. He then passed the gun to his father who then set the loaded gun on a table and left it unattended for a moment. During that time Martinez, Jr.'s 6-year-old nephew gained access to the rifle and pulled the trigger fatally shooting his grandfather in the chest.

"I held him," said Martinez Jr. "I watched him bleed out. He was breathing very heavy. Then, when the cops got here, they restrained me."

The news has left the entire family in shock and heartbroken. "I got the horrible call when I heard my mother, she was crying real bad," said Marco Martinez.

Martinez Jr. said he was unaware that his nephew was nearby. "We heard the gun shot go off. My father was struck in the chest before he was airlifted to the hospital, and they told us that he passed," he said. "I should've never brought the firearm out."

According to police, there were people drinking and doing drugs at the home. "In this particular case, investigators informed us, that there was alcohol involved. Not only alcohol. We also had drugs. We had cocaine," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.

They then arrested Martinez, Jr. "If you are a gun owner, you need to know that you are responsible for that gun. You're responsible on how to handle that gun and of the safety of the people around you," said Zabaleta.

However, Martinez, Jr. said, there is no one to blame for this tragic event. "The family is not trying to point the finger at anybody," said Martinez, Jr. "This is a tragic event that occurred. We can't say it was my fault, it was my nephew's fault, it was my father's fault. It's just a tragic event that occurred. If there was anything I could do to bring him back, God help me I would," said Martinez Jr.

Martinez, Jr., who bonded out of jail, now faces charges of culpable negligence of a firearm with easy access to a minor.

The 6-year-old has been very affected and is now receiving counseling.


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