Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2014

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Mother charged with child abuse, destroying evidence in son’s shooting

Carmen Gustin

Carmen Gustin

The mother of the 10-year-old boy who suffered an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head last week is accused of trying to hide the gun and pretend she didn’t know the boy had been shot.

Carmen Gustin, 38, North Las Vegas, was charged Thursday in North Las Vegas Township Justice Court with one count of child abuse with substantial bodily harm, two counts of child abuse and neglect and one count of destroying evidence, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office said.

On Aug. 9, medical personnel responded to a home in the 3500 block of Creosote Way, near Gowan Road and Allen Lane, regarding an injury to a child. There, they found a 10-year-old boy with a serious head injury, possibly a gunshot wound. The boy was transported to University Medical Center Trauma Center in critical condition.

According to a sworn police affadavit, Gustin’s 3-year-old son told police his mother had gone to the mailbox. While she was out, the 3-year-old and his 10-year-old brother took the gun from a bookshelf in their mom’s bedroom, removed the lock and his brother shot himself.

The 3-year-old boy told police that when his mother returned, she grabbed the gun and put it back on the shelf, then ran with him to a nearby babysitter’s house.

The babysitter said Gustin had told her the 10-year-old had shot himself and she didn’t want the 3-year-old to see what was going on. Gustin then returned home.

Officers, who had received a warrant to search the house, found the bookshelf described by the boy but the gun wasn’t there. Eventually, officers found a silver revolver in a dresser drawer underneath some clothing. The weapon had blood on it and there was one spent casing in the cylinder.

Copies of the 911 calls of the incident in question are conflicting. In her first call, Gustin said her son was “bleeding from a fall (or something) and needed medical attention.” In another call, Gustin said her son was shot.

Sgt. Tim Bedwell, North Las Vegas Police spokesman, said Friday that police believe when Gustin returned from the babysitter’s, she removed the gun and began “purifying the scene so she could say the boy fell down and hurt his head.”

Officers are “clearly convinced” the boy shot himself, Bedwell said. The abuse and neglect charges, he added, were related to the 10-year-old having access to the gun and the boys being left alone at home.

Gustin, who was arrested on unrelated misdemeanor warrants on the day of the shooting, is now in the Clark County Detention Center, where her bond is $160,000.

Bedwell said he did not know the current condition of the boy.

Child Protective Services has taken custody of the 3-year-old boy and an older teenage brother who was not home at the time of the shooting, authorities said.

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