SAN ANTONIO – A mother in San Antonio has been taken into custody after she claimed her 2-year-old daughter died from an unintentional discharge of a firearm, only for the little girl’s autopsy to reveal the fatal gunshot wound was not self-inflicted.
Jessica Cantu, 35, was arrested last week and charged with endangering a child — four months after her toddler, Juelz Gonzalez, was killed in their San Antonio home, FOX 29 San Antonio reported.
According to police records, the girl’s autopsy revealed she “could not have shot herself due to the gunshot being from a distance and not close proximity.”
“Initially it was reported to police that the child shot herself,” the San Antonio Police Department said in a statement to the local news outlet. “Through the course of the investigation investigators gathered additional evidence including the medical examiner’s report that determined the child had not shot herself. With enough probable cause they were able to issue a warrant for child endangerment.”
Cantu initially told police that she was in the bathroom with her 4-year-old daughter when she heard a loud “pop” the night of February 18, the New York Post reported.
The mother claimed that Juelz had been lying on a bed watching a movie on a cellphone at the time of the fatal encounter.
Cantu said she boyfriend, Joshua Christopher Ramirez, 32, who owned the weapon, both ran into the bedroom and found the little girl.
Ramirez was arrested at the time of the child’s death and is currently facing a criminal charge related to allegations that a gun he possessed was used to kill Juelz.
Child Abuse Prevention Advocate Carrie Wilcoxson said the adults there that night had a responsibility to protect the toddler.
“You as a caregiver have a responsibility, whether you’re committing the actual act, or you’re aware of what’s happening, you have a duty to protect, you have a duty to act. This was preventable. That’s the part of this that is so tragic,” Wilcoxson said.
The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office continues to review the case and hasn’t ruled out filing additional charges against Cantu or Ramirez.
The child’s biological father, Julio Gonzalez, wasn’t there at the time of the shooting, FOX 29 reported. He said he’s living to honor his daughter and is praying for everyone impacted by the loss of a child in this manner.
Cantu is being held on a $150,000 bond.