Man told detectives son ran in front of him while firing handgun

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FARMINGTON — A Kirtland man is facing a child abuse charge after he is accused of shooting his six-year-old son in the head last month while shooting at a bottle with a handgun.

Valdemar Rodriguez, 44, was charged on April 11 with a first-degree felony count of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm, according to court records.

The incident, which the family's attorney said was an accident, happened on March 3 in a wash about a mile from the family's residence, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Jack Fortner, Rodriguez's attorney, said the shooting was a very unfortunate accident, and he believes his client was charged as if he had intent to harm the child.

Fortner added he believes the case will be resolved in a good way for the family.

The child is still recovering from his injury and the entire family is shaken up by the accident, Fortner said.

A detective for the sheriff's office received a phone call on March 3 regarding a report of a six-year-old boy who had been shot in the head by his father, and that the injury was not life threatening.

Rodriguez told the detective at the San Juan Regional Medical Center he and his two sons were shooting at a bottle. He was using a handgun and the children were using a BB gun.

The father states he had fired the handgun once at the bottle and the bottle it fell over.

Rodriguez told the detective the boys were standing beside him and he told them he was shooting at the bottle a second time. He continues by stating his son ran in front of him as he was pulling the trigger and the boy got shot.

The boy was eventually transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

The detective spoke to the older brother, who was also at the scene. The older brother told the detective his younger brother did not know Rodriguez was going to shoot the bottle a second time.

The older brother also stated his younger brother was standing in front of and to the left of Rodriguez while they were shooting.

He added the round Rodriguez shot went to the left of where the bottle was and hit the his younger brother, according to the affidavit.

On March 8, Rodriguez took the investigators to the scene of the shooting.

The detective wrote in the affidavit "the location where his son was shot was to the left and much lower in elevation as compared to where (Rodriguez) was standing."

Rodriguez could not explain to the detective how is aim was so off from where the bottle was located, according to court documents.

The investigators revisited the scene on April 10 and believe there was a 28-degree angle of difference between where the boy was shot and the bottle.

Rodriguez waived his first appearance in Aztec Magistrate Court and his preliminary hearing is set for the morning of May 3, according to court records.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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