Man charged after son fatally shoots 3-year-old released on bond

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CHICAGO (STMW) - A man has been released from jail on bond after being charged with child endangerment for the accidental fatal shooting of his 3-year-old son Saturday night in Humboldt Park.

Michael Santiago bought a revolver to protect himself after the former gang member was tagged with the dangerous label of “snitch” because he testified at the murder trial of another gang member, prosecutors said Sunday at his bond hearing.

But his plan went terribly wrong.

Santiago’s 6-year-old son got his hands on the gun and accidentally shot his 3-year-old brother while the toddler ate a bowl of macaroni and cheese, killing him, prosecutors said.

“This is the ultimate tragedy,” Cook County Judge James Brown said before setting Santiago’s bond at $75,000. “I’m sure the defendant didn’t intend for this to happen, but it did happen.”

Santiago posted 10 percent bail and was released, according to Cook County Circuit Court records. He is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Friday.

Santiago warned his elder son that the Smith & Wesson .32-caliber revolver — bundled in a pair of pajama pants atop the refrigerator in the family’s garden apartment in Humboldt Park — was to be handled “only by adults,” prosecutors said.

But the boy got hold of the weapon and shot his brother, Eian H. Santiago, in the head just after 9 p.m. Saturday, prosecutors said.

Police said the boy was playing cops and robbers.

Santiago, 25, gave a videotaped statement to police in which he admitted he bought the gun off the street for protection. He was charged with felony child endangerment causing death.

Prosecutors said Sunday that Santiago had no concealed carry license, nor did he have a firearm owner’s identification card.

The boys were under the supervision of their grandfather, who was in an upstairs apartment when he heard the shot.

The grandfather carried the boy from the family’s apartment in the 1000 block of North Francisco Avenue about a block to Norwegian American Hospital. The boy was later transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

At the time of the shooting, Santiago was working at a pizza restaurant that he manages. His wife was at a grocery store buying milk with the couple’s third child, who is 1 year old.

Santiago has no felony convictions on his record. In 2010, he was convicted of misdemeanor theft and disorderly conduct, prosecutors said.