Community Defends 5-Year-Old's Caretaker After He Dies From Possible Self-Inflicted Gunshot

A neighborhood was mourning a 5-year-old boy who died after it's believed he found a gun and it went off in his hands, and the community was coming to the defense of the woman who took care of him and his siblings.

Police were trying to determine how he got a hold of the gun Thursday.

The boy killed lived in the area of 41st Street and Van Ness Avenue with his four other siblings. Their caregiver was a woman who had essentially adopted them. Neighbors said she took good care of her kids, and they never saw a weapon of any kind.

Family friends like Porsha Neal said they came to support the woman who took care of the five children in this house after the woman had essentially adopted them from her son's girlfriend, who was unable to take care of them.

"We love her dearly. All the children dearly. We're like a big family around here," Neal said.

Family friends don't blame her for what happened Wednesday.

"It's hard. It's real hard," Lonnie Sewer said.

Los Angeles police responded at 1:15 p.m. to reports of a shooting in the home in the 2000 block of Van Ness Avenue, and the child was found inside. 

The Los Angeles Police Department said the 5-year-old accidentally shot and killed himself, with his siblings in the room. The caretaker's boyfriend said his 26-year-old son kept a gun because he's a security guard. But police say it hasn't been determined if that was the gun involved.

"We are following up on the information and at this point we can't connect the firearm to that family member," Lt. Kerri Potter of the juvenile division said.

Family and friends described the boy as fun and full of joy. Neal brought toys from Paw Patrol to his memorial because that's what he and her 3-year-old son liked to play with together.

"It's just sad to see my son cry yesterday. I can't explain to my 3-year-old son that his buddy is not here anymore," Neal said.

Police and family members say they haven't been able to reach the boy's mother. His caregiver's boyfriend said she went to Child Protective Services, hoping she'll be able to still care for his siblings.

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