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Parents charged after 13-year-old shoots 5-year-old brother to death

The 13-year-old told investigators that he thought the safety was on when he pointed the gun and pulled the trigger.
Credit: KUSA
File photo of a gun and bullets

PENN HILLS, Pa. — The parents of a 5-year-old boy who was shot and killed by his older brother last month are now facing charges, CBS Pittsburgh reports. Thomas Wolfe and Sara Gerwig have been charged with endangering the welfare of children.

Police said their 13-year-old son got his hands on the couple's handgun at the family's home in the suburb of Penn Hills last month and shot his younger brother in the face.

Court documents say Wolfe admitted he left the gun on top of a gun safe and said the gun was always loaded with a live round in the chamber.

Gerwig said all four of their children were staying in a first floor bedroom because the electricity had stopped working on the second floor. The gun was on the first floor. 

Police said they found multiple safes and trigger locks in the home, but none were being used.

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The 13-year-old has been charged with homicide, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

Investigators originally believed the 5-year-old was shot and killed by a 6-year-old sibling when the children were left unsupervised in the bedroom and had easy access to the gun.

However, earlier this month, the 13-year-old was brought to Allegheny County Police Headquarters to speak with investigators.

He told them he became angry with his siblings for jumping on the bed and got his father's gun to try to scare them. He told them he thought the safety was on when he pointed the gun and pulled the trigger.

The 5-year-old was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by CBS Pittsburgh, the boy told police "he knew his father's handgun was accessible … and grabbed it."

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office is charging the 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 explained.

RELATED: Police beg parents to keep guns locked up, away from children after toddler dies