A Texas mother and her boyfriend were arrested this week after one of their children accidentally shot his 8-year-old brother in the chest inside of their home.
Baronica Anne Chapa and Nathan Stephen Mares were taken into custody on Tuesday and charged with one count each of making a firearm accessible to a child resulting in serious bodily injury, court documents reviewed by Law&Crime show.
According to a probable cause affidavit, officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department at approximately 11:52 p.m. on July 10 responded to a call about a child being shot at a residence located in the 3900 block of Cynthia Lane. Police responded to the home, which was empty upon their arrival, and to the emergency room at United Regional Health Care Systems, where a neighbor had taken the injured child and his mother.
Baronica, who is also referred to in the affidavit as “Baronica Anne Chapa (Mares)” and in jail records as “Baronica Anne Mares,” allegedly told investigators that she was at home with her three sons, ages 12, nine, and eight, and her 5-year-old daughter. Nathan, the children’s father, was at his brother’s house.
Baronica allegedly said that she was cleaning the kitchen when she heard a sudden “pop” noise that came from her bedroom.
“Baronica told officers that she heard her kids screaming so she ran to her bedroom and saw the victim covered in blood from a chest wound,” the affidavit states. “Baronica stated she carried her son outside and yelled for help while one of her children called 911. The neighbor across the street heard the commotion and drove Baronica and her children to the hospital. Baronica stated at first she had thought that her son had shot himself in the chest, but she wasn’t sure.”
Police say the 8-year-old boy sustained a gunshot wound to the upper left area of his chest. Doctors said that while the bullet barely missed the child’s heart, it did pierce his left lung, leaving him seriously injured. He was airlifted to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth for more specialized care.
Doctors said that the bullet went in the left side of the boy’s chest and exited out through the back of his right shoulder.
“Luckily, the victim survived and is expected to make a full recovery,” according to the affidavit.
When Nathan arrived at the hospital, he refused to speak with police before first discussing the matter with an attorney, authorities said. He allegedly told investigators, however, that he owned a Glock 42 .38 caliber handgun. Police said they overheard Nathan and Baronica telling their other children that “they knew better [than] to be in Nathan and Baronica’s room without an adult,” per the affidavit.
The children were subsequently interviewed by a specialist trained to forensically interview children. They allegedly told the interviewer that the 12-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister were in the living room while their mother was cleaning the kitchen and had no involvement in the incident.
“The 9-year-old son told the witness that he and the victim were playing in their parents room when they found a gun in a dresser. The 9 year old said he and the victim were playing with the gun when he accidentally pulled the trigger and shot his brother (victim),” the affidavit states. “A search warrant was obtained for the residence where this occurred. Detectives located two (2) rifles in the bedroom leaning against a wall, a chrome revolver on a nightstand dresser, and two (2) black semi-auto handguns, one of which was loaded and was believed to be the weapon used in the shooting. One handgun was located on a TV stand and the other was located on the nightstand with the revolver.”
A forensic review of the evidence collected from the home determined that the child had been shot with a Glock 42 .38 caliber handgun that matched the one owned by Nathan.
Both parents were booked at the Wichita County Jail and released the same day. Baronica was released on her own recognizance while Nathan posted a $2,500 surety bond, records show.
[Image via Wichita County Jail]
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