Criminal charges dismissed for the father of a child who fatally shot himself inside a car in Manitou Springs

Carlos Perez and Ashlynne Perez.
Carlos Perez and Ashlynne Perez.(El Paso County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 3:38 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A child playing with a loaded gun fatally shot himself inside a car while his father ran inside a pot dispensary, according to court papers obtained by 11 News.

11 News learned on Tuesday the criminal charges against the father were dismissed, however the child’s mother still faces criminal charges. The shooting happened on July 6. 11 News is working to learn why the charges, which included negligent child abuse, were dropped against the father.

The tragedy unfolded outside the Maggie’s Farm Marijuana Dispensary on Manitou Avenue just after noon. The little boy was rushed to Children’s Hospital but did not survive. According to the arrest affidavit for the child’s parents, father Carlos Perez told law enforcement he had left his wife and two children in the family car while he ran into the dispensary.

While waiting in the car, the little boy freed himself from his booster seat and climbed into the front of the car, mother Ashlynne Perez reportedly told investigators.

“Ms. Perez advised [her son] had done this in the past. Ms. Perez told [her son] to re-buckle, but he refused to listen and climbed into the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Then as she turned her head to look out the window towards the gas station (opposite of the location), she heard a loud boom. Ms. Perez looked back at [her son] and noticed his eyes were looking in opposite directions. She began checking [her son’s] side for an injury due to the sound. ... At that time, Ms. Perez looked inside his mouth and noticed the injury. Ms. Perez began screaming and trying to call 911, however was to distraught to do so.” - Excerpt from arrest affidavit for Ashlynne Perez

Carlos Perez told investigators he heard screaming while inside the store. Bystanders outside began calling 911.

Both parents reportedly told investigators their son was familiar with the gun, having played with it previously. Carlos Perez allegedly admitted to showing his child the gun the day before while it was unloaded. Investigators also learned the little boy had played with the gun two other times before his parents noticed and took the weapon away, the arrest affidavit said.

On the day the family drove to Maggie’s Farm, Carlos Perez loaded the firearm and stashed it an open glovebox in the vehicle.

“Your affiant [detective] is aware firearms have been taken away [the child] on other occasions where he has picked up the firearm and attempted to play with it. Due to those incidents occurring in the past, both parents should have been aware of the danger of this occurring and the probability that [the child] would pick up a firearm within his vicinity. Both Mr. Perez and Ms. Perez were aware of the loaded firearm being out in the open of the vehicle where the [child] could easily access it if he was not in the backseat of the vehicle. Both parents were also aware [the child] was capable of exiting his booster seat and gaining access to the front seat of the vehicle. Neither placed the firearm in a safe location despite knowing the past history of [the child] and firearms resulting in this incident occurring.” - Excerpt from arrest affidavit for Carlos Perez

“Could this have been prevented?” 11 News reporter Ashley Franco asked EPSO spokesperson Sgt. Jason Garrett.

“Absolutely,” he said.

The next court appearance for Ashlynne is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 9.

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