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AZTEC — The 24-year-old man accused earlier this month of accidentally shooting his younger brother in the stomach was charged last week in Aztec Magistrate Court with first-degree felony child abuse and negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Christopher Montoya was booked at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center Monday, according to court records, but released without a bond.

Montoya faces up to 18 years in prison and $15,000 in fines if convicted of first-degree felony child abuse.

Deputies from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office were dispatched shortly after midnight April 4 to a campground east of Aztec near mile marker 13 on N.M. Highway 173, also known as Navajo Dam Road, in reference to a shooting.

Deputies made contact with Amy Ritter and her cousin James McDonald at the scene, the warrant states.

They told officers they had transported Danny Montoya to the roadway after the 13-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the stomach by his brother.

Jeremiah Gonzales, the Montoya brothers' cousin, told detectives that Christopher Montoya was showing him his .40-caliber pistol when it accidentally discharged. He said Christopher Montoya removed the magazine from the firearm before the incident, and he was uncertain how a live round got into the chamber, according to the warrant.

Christopher Montoya admitted in a statement he had consumed about six or seven beers at the time of the shooting. The firearm was seized as evidence, and detectives located a .40-caliber shell casing at the scene.

Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln told The Daily Times earlier this month that Danny Montoya was taken to the San Juan Regional Medical Center for treatment and then transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

The bullet entered his stomach, but exited from his leg, Lincoln said.

Judy Montoya, the mother of Christopher and Danny Montoya, said Thursday that her 13-year-old son is healing faster than expected, but doctors had to remove portions of his stomach, colon and small intestines.

"I have him at home now," she said. "His pain is under control, and we are starting to wean him off of the pain medication."

She said Christopher Montoya has created a GoFundMe account on his brother's behalf to raise money for hospital expenses.

The family has raised $1,560 in 18 days, according to the account, but is hoping to raise $2,000.

Donations can be made at gofundme.com/rc49p2ak.

Danny Montoya was the second child in San Juan County to be accidentally shot by a sibling this year. In January, a 6-year-old girl playfully pointed a rifle at her 8-year-old sister and shot the girl in the neck.

After several months of deliberations, the San Juan County District Attorney's Office declined to pursue charges against the girls' father, who was with the children when the incident occurred.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said Chrisopher Montoya's intoxication at the time of the shooting was a significant factor in the state's determination to press charges.

Montoya is expected to appear at a preliminary examination hearing on May 14.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.

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