According to Chicago Tribune, 25-year-old Michael Santiago was charged with felony child endangerment causing death after his 3-year-old son Eian Santiago was shot dead by his 6-year-old son, whose name has not been released, while playing cops and robbers in their Humboldt Park community home on 1000 block of North Francisco Avenue.
At approximately 9:05 p.m. on Saturday, while Michael was working late at Ray’s Pizza restaurant and his wife Angie was at the store buying milk with her daughter — leaving her father, Hector Salgado, to watch the boys – their oldest son retrieved the loaded gun that was hidden behind the refrigerator and shot his brother in the face as he was eating mac and cheese.
According to the Washington Post, when Angie returned to her home, she discovered the tragedy and immediately called her husband at work. “He was in shock,” said George Rayyan, who is a friend of the family. “He couldn’t understand his wife, she was crying so much.”
Eian was immediately rushed to Norwegian American Hospital, but had to be transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital where the hospital staff worked diligently to save his life. However, Eian succumbed to his injuries three hours later. According to the boy’s grandfather, he still thinks Eian is in the hospital.
Michael was later questioned by Chicago police and stated that he kept a loaded gun in the home because he is a former member of the Spanish Cobras gang and needed protection. After buying the gun from another gang member, he showed his oldest son where he was going to hide it, but claims he told his son that it was only for adults.
Michael and his family recently moved into the home, and he believed the new refrigerator was too high for the children to reach. Therefore, “in his eyes, that was the best spot, on the back of the fridge, because the kids couldn’t find it. The gun shouldn’t have been there, but everyone makes mistakes,” said Rayyan.
A GoFundMe page was set up by Rayyan to help with the funeral cost. He also wrote, “Confused why god chose such a young innocent kid is all that’s going through my head.” Michael was later arrested and faces criminal charges after his oldest son shot and killed his brother with his gun. His wife turned to Facebook to defend her husband, saying, “My husband is a great husband and father. We live in a terrible neighborhood. Any great man would want to protect his family. We can’t even go outside without some shooting.”
“Please let my family grieve in piece,” she continued. “Leave out all your negative and rude comments to yourself. OMG! No one knows the pain I’m going through. I can’t believe he’s gone…my beautiful baby boy. I can’t feel, can’t sleep. Oh my sweet baby boy, I miss you so much.”
Michael faced the judge on Sunday where prosecutors asked Judge James Brown to set his bail at $1 million. However, after the judge listened to the defense attorney’s plea for leniency and to lower the bond so that Michael could return home to his grieving family, Brown said, “This is the ultimate tragedy, and whether I said a $1 million bond or a lower bond, it’s not going to bring back this child.”
“I’m sure the defendant did not intend for this to happen, but it happened,” Brown added, before lowering the bail to $75,000. “And it’s what happens when people have guns who shouldn’t have guns. That’s why we’ve had 2,300 people shot in Chicago so far this year.”
Although Michael’s bond was lowered and he now has the chance of being reunited with his grieving family, he could face up 10 years in prison if he is found guilty of felony child endangerment.
[Image via YouTube screen capture]