Father pleads guilty in Thanksgiving Day shooting that wounded son, 2

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A father whose 2-year-old son was wounded in a shooting in their North Philadelphia home on Thanksgiving Day has pleaded guilty to felony charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Omar Laboy-Vega, 35, was then sentenced Tuesday as part of a plea deal to five to 10 years in state prison, followed by five years’ probation.

About 4 p.m. Nov. 24, Laboy-Vega’s 2-year-old son was accidentally shot in the chest by his 4-year-old cousin, who picked up a loaded gun in the rowhouse on the 3500 block of North Ninth Street. The bullet ripped apart the toddler’s little finger, then entered his body. 

The 2-year-old boy survived after spending several weeks in a hospital and has been doing well, prosecutors have said.
Laboy-Vega did not comment at his sentencing hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Coleman, Assistant District Attorney Branwen McNabb said Wednesday.

The toddler’s mother, Rachel Santiago, 34, pleaded guilty last month to a felony count of endangering the welfare of a child and was sentenced to six to 12 months in jail followed by six years’ probation. 

The 4-year-old boy had found the loaded gun in a dresser drawer in his aunt and uncle’s bedroom. Laboy-Vega told police that the two young boys may have seen him put the gun in the drawer earlier that day, said McNabb, assistant chief of the District Attorney’s Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.

Besides that gun, there was also a loaded gun under a mattress, which was lying on the floor of the bedroom, McNabb said.

Also, about an hour before the shooting, McNabb said, Laboy-Vega had been playing a violent video game in his bedroom with his 2-year-old son and 4-year-old nephew nearby, the prosecutor said. During that time, the 4-year-old was playing with a toy gun, she said.

Laboy-Vega, who had a prior robbery conviction in New York state and was on parole at the time of the shooting, was not allowed to possess firearms.

Santiago, who did not have a prior criminal history, had admitted to buying the guns, McNabb has said. She was not allowed to have the guns in her house given that Laboy-Vega also lived there.

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