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Neglect count filed in toddler shooting

– A man charged Friday in the accidental shooting of a toddler in January originally told police the gun just fired – he didn’t know how.

Rojelio Rubalcada, 24, then said he saw the 3-year-old girl pick up and drop the gun, which is when it fired and hit the girl in the leg.

In court records, the child’s mother told police that Rubalcada said right after the shooting that he had dropped the loaded gun.

The events that led to a toddler having a bullet hole in her leg resulted in a felony charge of neglect of a dependent against Rubalcada, of the 800 block of Growth Avenue.

According to the affidavit, Rubalcada lived in the upper half of a house and the child’s sister lived in the bottom apartment unit.

The child’s mother told police Rubalcada was upstairs with the toddler and drinking before he came downstairs in a panic and said the mother needed to come upstairs.

Once upstairs, Rubalcada told the mother he dropped his gun and it fired, striking the child, according to the mother’s statements to police.

Rubalcada told police he left the loaded gun on a table with the child in the room, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit goes on to say that as Rubalcada walked back into the living room from the kitchen, he saw the child pick up the gun and drop it. The bullet entered the back of the child’s lower thigh and exited by her kneecap, a doctor told police at the time.

Despite the explanation the child’s mother gave in the affidavit, police dealt with conflicting versions immediately after the shooting.

The child’s mother originally said she was outside, heard a gunshot, a scream and the crying of her child, according to police reports.

Shortly thereafter, Rubalcada said he was the one outside, not the mother, and heard two gunshots from the home. He said he was warming a van, but police said the van showed no signs it had been started, according to the original police reports.

Rubalcada eventually told police he saw the child pick up the gun and drop it.

Police found the weapon on the roof of the home.

Rubalcada was not yet in custody Friday night.

cmeyers@jg.net

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