The father of a 4-year-old boy who shot and killed his 6-year-old playmate after finding a loaded .22-caliber rifle in his parents' home has been arrested after officials found "multiple" unsecured weapons accessible to children in the New Jersey house.
Anthony Senatore, 33, was arrested Monday evening and charged with several counts of endangering the welfare of children, the acting prosecutor in Atlantic County, Jim McClain, announced in a statement.
According to the charges, which also include one count of being a disorderly person for allegedly allowing minors to access a firearm, Senatore had at least three weapons in his house in addition to the rifle that his son was holding on April 8 when he fatally shot his neighbor, Brandon Holt, in the head.
The other guns in the house, where three children ages 4, 8 and 12 live, included two Harrington & Richardson shotguns and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, officials said. All were found "unsecured and in close proximity to ammunition and accessible to Senatore's own children," McClain said.
Senatore was released during the night on $100,000 bail.
The investigation was turned over to the Atlantic County prosecutor's office, apparently because Senatore's family has ties to law enforcement in Ocean County, where the shooting occurred. The New Jersey Star-Ledger said Senatore's mother and grandfather had retired from the Ocean County prosecutor's office. His father was a detective in another New Jersey county.
The shooting occurred April 8 on a quiet, suburban street in Toms River, about 70 miles south of New York City. Witnesses said the 4-year-old was outside playing with Brandon on the warm spring evening when he wandered inside his house and came out with the loaded weapon. The gun went off, hitting Brandon, who was in a go-cart about 45 feet away. Brandon died in a hospital the next day.
It was the second time in three days that a child had gotten hold of a loaded weapon and shot someone. Three days before Brandon died, a 4-year-old in Tennessee shot and killed a woman during a cookout.
Police in Camden, N.J., are still investigating the shooting last Friday of a 12-year-old boy by an 11-year-old. The shooting victim was struck in the face but was expected to recover. An initial investigation indicated that the shooting was an accident, but police were looking into how the 11-year-old got hold of the firearm.
The state Senate is expected to vote Monday on new gun control measures introduced in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre and after several shootings in New Jersey.
Key changes would be a mandatory waiting period, which would require people to wait seven days before buying a gun after obtaining a weapons permit. Advocates of the waiting time, known as a "cooling-off" period, say it would reduce the chance of someone who is angry being able to get a gun quickly and use it in the heat of the moment.
Prospective gun owners who apply for permits also would be required to undergo training, and state police would receive electronic notices of all online ammunition sales.
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