Authorities in California say an act of negligence led to the death of a 2-year-old boy, who allegedly got his hands on a gun owned by a family friend and accidentally shot himself.
Now, the gun’s owner is behind bars on a single criminal storage of a firearm charge.
In California, state law mandates guns be secured whenever a child may have access to it.
During a press conference Saturday, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the death of little Jace Alexander was totally preventable, saying 35-year-old Oscar Ramos owns a safe for the loaded gun the toddler allegedly found on an entertainment center.
Ramos lives with Jace’s father, Dyer explained.
The boy’s father was at work at the time of the deadly incident.
According to Dyer, Jace’s father’s fiancee had left the boy in the living room, where he was watching cartoons, and joined Ramos in another room to play video games.
Both heard a loud “pop,” Dyer said, and rushed towards it.
They found Jace in his bedroom with a gunshot wound to the head.
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Dyer confirmed the fiancee tried calling 911 but allegedly could not get through to dispatchers. She told Ramos to call 911, but he hesitated, instead pacing around the house for an estimated five to 10 minutes.
The fiancee snatched Ramos’ phone from his hands, and called police. The child was still breathing when officers arrived, so he was transported to the nearest hospital where, hours later, he died.
Dyer alleged Ramos “took full responsibility” for the shooting, and even allegedly told police that Jace’s father had warned him previously about leaving the weapon out in the open.
If convicted, Ramos could be sentenced to three years in prison.
It was unclear Tuesday if he had a lawyer or had entered a plea to the charge against him.
PEOPLE was unable to reach Ramos or Jace’s parents for comment.