Father of boy, 3, killed in accidental shooting got gun for protection, police say

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The father of a boy, 3, who was accidentally shot and killed by his brother, 6, told the police he got the gun to protect his family. (WLS)

The father of a 3-year-old boy who was accidentally shot and killed on by his older brother told police he got the gun for protection. Michael Santiago, 25, was charged with felony child endangerment causing death and bond was set at $75,000 at his first court appearance Sunday.

Emotional relatives had nothing to say as they were escorted from court by anti-gun violence advocate Andrew Holmes.

"The family is totally upset about the whole incident and at the same time they're trying to raise the money to get this young man out," Holmes said.

Eian H. Santiago, 3, and his 6-year-old brother were playing "cops and robbers" around 9:05pm Saturday in their home. The children's grandfather was watching them while Santiago was at work and his wife went to the store with the couple's infant daughter to get some milk.

It was after Israel LaSalle says he asked the boys to go downstairs to get some bleach so he could clean up after the dog that he heard a single shot ring out.

"I heard a pop, you know, like somebody had shot, so I opened the door and I look out and he was running up the stairs and he told me somebody shot his brother," LaSalle said.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the older boy found a loaded revolver on top of a refrigerator and accidentally shot his younger brother.

LaSalle says ran with Eian in his arms to a nearby hospital. He was then rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators say Santiago, a former gang member, says he got the gun for protection after testifying against another gang member during a murder trial. Prosecutors say Santiago doesn't have a valid firearm owners identification card or a valid conceal carry permit for the loaded weapon, which they say he had left wrapped in a pair of pajama pants on top of the refrigerator and had shown to his older son last week.

"I don't think that he should be charged for his own child's death. He didn't kill his child, it was an accident," a neighbor said.

Family and friends say Santiago is a hard-working man who is trying to keep his life on track, though they struggle to cope with the tragedy.

Relatives and friends have established a GoFundMe page to help raise money to page for the funeral. Santiago's next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 23.
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