MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The father of a 2-year-old boy who was accidentally shot dead by his brother now faces two felony charges in connection with the shooting.
Kao Chongsua Xiong, 31, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and endangerment of a child over the Dec. 5 death of his son Neejnco Xiong.
“No self respecting gun owner would have a handgun in such a condition available to kids. That is a crime,” said Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County Attorney.
Neejnco Xiong and his brother were playing inside the family’s townhome on 7th Street near Cedar Avenue. Both of the boy’s parents were home at the time.
Xiong’s 4-year-old brother was playing with a loaded handgun in the upstairs bedroom when it accidentally went off.
Paramedics tried to revive 2-year-old Xiong, but he died before getting to the hospital. Police said the boys were home with their parents at the time along with their 1-year-old brother.
According to the criminal complaint, the gun the boys were playing with was a semi-automatic pistol that Kao Xiong kept loaded underneath his mattress. Police noted the gun was missing its safety assembly.
The gun was one of at least eight firearms Kao Xiong was keeping inside the home, including bolt action and semi-automatic rifles. One of the guns at the residence had been reported stolen from a residence connected with Kao Xiong and was used in an armed robbery last year before being returned to its owner (someone who was not Kao Xiong, police said).
Kao Xiong told police that he lives in a separate address from his wife and children, which is where the shooting happened.
He said that he put the gun, which he brought to the house in a holster, underneath the mattress because he couldn’t take his gun to work with him at an area mental health clinic. He told police he’d never put the gun in that spot before, but his wife said that he stored the gun there regularly.
“In my lifetime, I never thought this tragedy would happen to my family,” Xiong said at a vigil earlier this month.
Kao Xiong told police he had the firearms for hunting purposes.
State law says it’s a crime to have a loaded gun in a home where children have access to it.
Kao Xiong faces 10 and five years in prison if convicted of the two separate charges, respectively. He is not currently in custody.