POLSON, Mont. (AP) — A 3-year-old Montana boy who died of a bullet wound last week was shot in the back by an intoxicated man who said he didn’t think the gun was loaded as they played together, prosecutors said.
Galen Hawk, 26, is charged with negligent homicide in the death Wednesday of Lonato Moran-Allen. They lived in the same northwestern Montana residence, but weren’t related.
Hawk told investigators that he saw the boy holding his gun Wednesday evening and took it away, court records said. Hawk said the boy then ran down the hallway, looking back toward him while pretending to shoot a toy gun. Hawk says he pointed his gun at the child in response and pulled the trigger, believing the gun wasn’t loaded because the magazine was in his pocket.
The bullet entered the boy’s upper back near his right shoulder and exited through his lower chest on his left side, an autopsy found.
Hawk and two other residents of the house took the boy to the hospital, where he died less than three weeks before his fourth birthday.
Hawk told investigators that he had been drinking whiskey and alcoholic lemonade prior to the shooting and was “buzzed,” charging documents said.
“He chose to take a handgun ... a .380 handgun, loaded, while he was intoxicated, and pointed it at a child,” Lake County Deputy Attorney James Lapotka said Friday during Hawk’s initial appearance in Justice Court.
Hawk did not enter a plea and his bail was set at $100,000.
Public defender Matt Pavelich, who represented Hawk during the hearing, told the court that Hawk would like to attend Lonato’s funeral on Tuesday, but the judge did not make a decision on that request.
Hawk hasn’t been appointed a permanent public defender, court officials said.