By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PENN HILLS (KDKA) - A 13-year-old boy is facing homicide charges in connection to his 5-year-old brother's shooting death in Penn Hills.
The teen has been charged with criminal homicide and possession of a firearm by a minor.
Investigators originally believed the 5-year-old was shot and killed by a 6-year-old sibling when the three children were left unsupervised in a bedroom with easy access to the gun last month.
However, on Tuesday, the 13-year-old was brought to Allegheny County Police Headquarters to speak with investigators.
He told investigators that he became angry with his siblings for jumping on the bed in their home and went to his father's bedroom to get his father's gun in an attempt to scare them. He told them he believed the safety was on when he pointed the gun at Wolfe and pulled the trigger.
The 5-year-old was shot in the face and taken to UPMC Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by KDKA, the boy told police "he knew his father's handgun was accessible in the bedroom and grabbed it."
The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office is charging a 13-year-old as an adult because the boy intentionally shot his brother, a spokesperson said in a statement. Homicide charges can't be filed directly in juvenile court, the district attorney's office said.
"He was arraigned by video late last night while still at county police headquarters and immediately taken to a juvenile housing facility. It is our intention to transfer this case to juvenile court forthwith and allow a judge to decide what is the best course of supervision and treatment for this child," the DA's office said.
"It's good news for the defendant because they won't be looking at some of the daunting penalties that might otherwise exist," St. Vincent College Law Professor Bruce Antkowiak said.
But Antkowiak said even in juvenile court, if convicted, the boy is still looking at a long time in a detention center.
"This doesn't mean that this defendant is going to be out on the street. There are juvenile detention centers all over the state of Pennsylvania and they are treated very much the same as they would be in prison. They leave those places in shackles and chains," the professor said.
Wednesday morning, police Inspector Michael Peairs had a brief press conference about the facts of the case but said they expect to charge at least one of the parents for having an unsecured gun within reach of children.
"We know this is a tragic case, tragic incident. And in light of that and several other recent tragedies, most importantly, I think we need to address gun safety and I think what needs to be addressed is if you have firearms and small children in your home, those firearms should be locked or in some secure fashion," said Peairs.
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