Phoenix police have released audio from an apparently frantic 911 call made last month by a 28-year-old mother after her 9-year-old son was fatally shot in the head — an incident that continues to puzzle investigators.
“Yes, I have an emergency now! My son got shot in the head!” Wendy Lavarnia told a police dispatcher the evening of March 20, according to a copy of the call obtained by PEOPLE.
“He is 9 years old,” Lavarnia tells the 911 operator, adding that her son, Landen Lavarnia, was shot “by his baby brother,” who is 2.
Wendy and her husband, Kansas Lavarnia, have both been charged with a single count of murder for their alleged failure to seek immediate medical care for Landen.
Investigators tell PEOPLE they believe the boy might still be alive if his parents had quickly called 911, instead of allegedly spending hours cleaning up blood and other evidence from the shooting.
During her call, Wendy told 911 dispatchers how the shooting occurred. “I got my gun down,” she explained. “I put it on my bed like an idiot, and my son — I didn’t think he could fire it — and he shot it.”
However, a police spokesman tells PEOPLE that Landen was shot under suspicious circumstances and that investigators have yet to determine who fired the fatal bullet.
Police contend Wendy waited hours before calling for help. It’s unclear how long after Landen was shot that the 911 call was placed.
Kansas, 31, additionally faces child abuse and hindering prosecution charges. Both parents remain in police custody on $1 million bail and have pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to records.
Their lawyers were unavailable for comment.
In the audio from her 911 call, Wendy is directed by dispatchers to initiate CPR in an effort to try to revive her son before emergency crews arrive at her home.
Landen died days later in a nearby hospital.
‘It Definitely Shocks Your Conscience’
Phoenix police Sgt. Vince Lewis said at a news conference last month that evidence gathered from the scene of the shooting “implies that a significant amount of time and effort was taken prior to contacting emergency services” to wash away blood and conceal other evidence.
“This intentional delay in medical treatment significantly endangered [Landen’s] health,” Lewis told reporters. “We have a 9-year-old boy critically wounded, shot in the head, in dire need of life-saving efforts and care which was delayed and not provided. … It definitely shocks your conscience.”
“The delay in care was significant here, and that’s what ultimately led to the charge of first-degree murder,” Lewis said.
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Wendy initially told investigators that Kansas was not home at the time of the shooting, according to criminal complaints obtained by PEOPLE. When Kansas returned home hours later, police noticed he had suffered a gunshot wound to his upper left arm and tried to conceal his injury with “tissue paper and a distinct clear packing tape.”
Police believe he tried disguising his wound — using a screwdriver to puncture the skin around the bullet hole.
At this point, investigators are still considering the possibility that the bullet that entered and exited Kansas’ left arm was the very same bullet that killed Landen.
Earlier Problems with Child Welfare?
The Arizona Department of Child Safety has said Kansas and Wendy “had a previous dependency case with DCS” involving Landen.
“On June 10, 2014, DCS received a report that Wendy Lavarnia, then named Wendy Rodriguez, gave birth to a baby [one of Landen’s younger siblings] who was substance exposed to methadone and heroin,” the agency said in a statement.
“Ms. Lavarnia agreed to in-home services with DCS. She was referred to participate in Family Preservation services in order to address parenting skills, substance abuse issues, and provide additional support for the family. While receiving in-home services, Ms. Lavarnia tested positive for illegal substances.”
DCS removed the Lavarnia children from their home on Aug. 20, 2014, and the department filed a dependency petition with Arizona’s Maricopa County Juvenile Court.
“Both parents participated in services and worked towards reunifying with their children. Both engaged in services to address their substance abuse and domestic violence issues,” DCS said in its statement. “They also received intensive parenting training and successfully completed this service.”
The Lavarnias regained physical custody of the kids on Nov. 15, 2015, though “the court maintained oversight and DCS maintained legal custody of the children.”
In March 2016, “a Maricopa County Juvenile Court judge dismissed the dependency [petition] after the parents demonstrated they had made the appropriate behavioral changes to safely parent their children. The department continued to engage the family until the case closure in June 2016.”
Following Landen’s shooting, less than a year later, his three siblings are in the department’s care.