LAKE STEVENS — A year ago, a Lake Stevens man was defending himself in court about the access children had to guns in his home.
Now, detectives are investigating the events leading up to a 4-year-old neighbor allegedly shooting the man’s 3-year-old son.
Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies are investigating whether the 4-year-old neighbor accidentally shot the younger boy on Friday while the two were playing in a bedroom in a home in the 600 block of East Lake Shore Drive.
The 3-year-old was listed Tuesday in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He suffered extensive injuries to his mouth and face.
In Snohomish County and elsewhere in Washington in recent years, accidental shootings by children have led to criminal charges against parents for leaving firearms within their reach. A jury in 2012 couldn’t reach a verdict on manslaughter charges against a Marysville police officer whose young son shot and killed his sister.
No charges have been filed in the Lake Stevens case. Under state law, children under the age of 8 can’t commit a crime.
The victim’s father, 46, has no criminal history in Washington. On social media, he had advocated for gun rights and for teaching children firearm safety from a young age.
Last year, the man’s wife sought a protection order for herself and their boy, then 18 months old. The man was accused of shoving his wife, grabbing her arms and making threats over multiple occasions, including suicidal threats. The court didn’t find sufficient evidence of domestic violence, records show.
The wife also alleged the man left his guns unsecured around the house when his then-12-year-old daughter came to visit.
The woman at the time said she was concerned for the young boy’s safety.
The man said he kept his guns locked up but his wife left hers unsecured. He said her allegations stemmed from relationship arguments and her seeking custody of their son.
He also described himself as a victim of “the current anti-gun political climate.”
The protection order was dismissed in October.
Police on Tuesday said they don’t expect to release new information until they are further along in their investigation, a process that could take months.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.