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Parents of 9-year-old shot in head arrested; boy later died

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Wendy Lavarnia, 28, and Kansas Lavarnia, 31 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Wendy Lavarnia, 28, and Kansas Lavarnia, 31 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Police on scene of a shooting near 35th Avenue and Cactus in Phoenix where a child was shot.  20 March 2017 [Source: 3TV/CBS5] Police on scene of a shooting near 35th Avenue and Cactus in Phoenix where a child was shot. 20 March 2017 [Source: 3TV/CBS5]
Wendy Lavarnia, 28, is facing four counts of child abuse or endangerment. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Wendy Lavarnia, 28, is facing four counts of child abuse or endangerment. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Kansas Lavarnia, 31, is facing a weapons charge. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Kansas Lavarnia, 31, is facing a weapons charge. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Police announced Tuesday that a 9-year-old boy shot in the head has died and both parents are facing charges.

Sgt. Vince Lewis of the Phoenix Police Department said Wendy Lavarnia, 28, is facing four counts of child abuse "for endangering her children when she placed a gun within their reach, resulting in one child shooting another ...." 

Phoenix police said Kansas Eric Lavarnia, 31, a convicted felon, was aware the gun was in the house and he is facing a weapons charge for being a prohibited possessor, according to court documents. 

[VIDEO: Initial court appearance for Wendy Lavarnia]

[VIDEO: Initial court appearance for Kansas Lavarnia]

Wendy did not have an attorney and spoke little when she appeared briefly before a judge Tuesday after being arrested and jailed.

She asked the judge whether she could go to the hospital to check on her son's condition, but the judge said she couldn't get out of jail without posting a $25,000 bond. The judge also said she had to stay away from victims in the case as well as any children.

Police initially issued conflicting reports about whether the 9-year-old had died or remained on life support but on Tuesday evening Sgt. Lewis confirmed the boy had died and identified the child as Landen Lavarnia.

Investigators are looking into additional charges as the investigation continues, Sgt. Lewis said.

Officers were called to the home in the 3500 block of West Rosewood Avenue around 3 p.m. after reports of gunfire. That's near 35th Avenue and Cactus Road.  

Officers found a young boy with a gunshot wound to the head.

The boy's mother and three other children were home at the time of the shooting.

Wendy told detectives that she had put the loaded gun on the bed -- within reach of two of the children -- and then turned around to get the holster, according to court paperwork. She said she heard a shot and turned back to see her 2-year-old holding the gun and her 9-year-old, who had been standing and playing video games nearby, shot in the head.

Kansas was not home at the time, but arrived later and was questioned by police about the gun. Officers arrested him and booked him on a weapons charge.

The only comments made by Kansas during his first court hearing were when he stated his full name and date of birth in response to a question.

He was ordered released on his own recognizance because he isn't accused of directly causing harm in the shooting of the 2-year-old, said Maricopa County Court Commissioner Paula Williams.

He hasn't been assigned a lawyer, and there's no phone listing under his name.

Based on Arizona Department of Corrections records, he spent time in prison on convictions of theft and possession of burglary tools from incidents in 2009. He was admitted on Nov. 24, 2009, and released a little more than five years ago in February 2012. As a convicted felon, Kansas is a "prohibited possessor" and thus is not allowed to own or carry a gun.

"I feel sorry, you know what I mean," said Jason Burns, a neighbor. "It's gun safety. You need to keep it locked up and you need to educate your kids that this is not a toy."

It's not clear if the other three Lavarnia children are staying with family or if they are in the care of the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction about the victim's condition from the Phoenix Police Department.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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