Boy, 3, dies after being shot with father's gun

Man says he heard shot, found son in basement

June 10, 1999|By Rafael Alvarez and Peter Hermann | Rafael Alvarez and Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The 3-year-old East Baltimore boy who was shot at his home Sunday night with his father's gun died Tuesday night of a head wound at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Police said Jordan Garris -- who had been in critical condition since suffering a single gunshot to the right side of his head in the basement of his North Ellwood Avenue rowhouse -- was pronounced dead at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The father, Cliff Garris, 23, also of the first block of N. Ellwood Ave., told detectives he was on the first floor of the house about 4 p.m. Sunday when he heard a gunshot in the basement. When he went downstairs, Garris told police, he found the wounded boy.

Police said the bullet that killed Jordan -- who lived with his parents and two sisters, ages 2 and 1 -- came from a Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic handgun owned by the elder Garris.

Shortly after the shooting, police administered a test to the boy's father to determine whether there was gunshot residue on his hands. Those tests have been completed.

"We're analyzing the results. The tests are consistent with what we believe happened," said Sgt. Frederick H. Bealefeld III of the homicide unit. Bealefeld would not say whether gunshot residue was found on Cliff Garris' hands.

"Just because you have residue on your hands doesn't mean conclusively that you fired the weapon," Bealefeld said. "We're doing more forensic tests, and we're not going to hurry the investigation."

Bealefeld said the father's account -- that he was upstairs when the boy got hold of the unlocked gun and accidentally shot himself -- has not changed since police first interviewed him Sunday night.

Garris told police his son might have found the gun hidden under a pillow or mattress in the basement.

Baltimore law requires parents who keep weapons at home to have them unloaded and locked away so that children can't get to them.

No charges had been filed as of last night. Garris could not be reached for comment.

Pub Date: 6/10/99

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