A Florida woman was charged in the death of her husband after their 2-year-old son appeared to fatally shoot him in the back, authorities said Monday.
Marie Ayala, 26, was charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence, accused of failing to properly secure a Glock handgun the boy is believed to have shot his father with while he was playing a video game, according to an arrest affidavit from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The boy's 5-year-old brother told authorities that his sibling accidentally fired the gun, the affidavit says.
"The gun was not properly stored, and in fact, it was easily accessible even to a 2-year-old, and the result is a tragedy in this community that no one can comprehend,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina told reporters, according to NBC affiliate WESH of Orlando.
In a statement, the sheriff’s office added: "The children were not injured physically, but they will likely carry emotional wounds forever. Not only have they effectively lost both parents, the toddler who accidentally shot his father in the back will have to grow up with the knowledge that his actions caused his dad’s death. If you own a gun, always be responsible."
Ayala told investigators that the couple and their three children — including an infant — were in the bedroom of their Orlando home on May 26 when the gun went off and a bullet struck her husband, Reggie Mabry, the affidavit says.
At the time, the Glock was loaded with an extended high-capacity magazine, the affidavit says. Mabry was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to the affidavit.
Ayala said the gun had been kept under a pillow, in a box in the closet and sometimes in a safe that was broken, the affidavit says. At the time of the shooting, she said, it was in a bag near some dirty laundry, although she added that the weapon could have slipped out of the bag while it was being hung on the wall, the affidavit says.
"I then asked Marie Ayala if she thought the gun being stored in a bag, three feet above the ground, was safe with children in the room," the affidavit quotes a sheriff's detective saying. "She advised it was not safe. She acknowledged that any child in the room could have figured out how to get the gun out of the bag."
The 5-year-old boy separately told his mother, the detective and a worker from the local child protection agency that his brother fired the gun, the affidavit says.
Ayala, who was also charged with illegally possessing a firearm as a felon, appeared in court Saturday and was being held in lieu of $10,000 bond, jail records show. A message left with the local public defender's office, which is representing Ayala, was not immediately returned.