Miami-Dade County

Miami mom: 3-year-old son shot himself after reaching for iPad and finding gun

Miami crime scene officers and detectives look over the apartment building at 112 NE 71st St. where a child was shot Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.
Miami crime scene officers and detectives look over the apartment building at 112 NE 71st St. where a child was shot Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. WALTER MICHOT

Darnal Mundy’s mother said her 3-year-old son crawled out of bed, climbed onto a chair, opened a dresser drawer, then pulled the trigger of a loaded Glock 9mm handgun and shot himself in the head.

Miami police, who interviewed the child’s parents on Tuesday afternoon, weren’t ready to confirm Dorphise Jean’s story.

“All we know is we have a child who was shot,” said Miami Police Detective Frederica Burden. “How or why is being investigated.”

Darnal, who was ready to attend prekindergarten in the fall, had surgery and was in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Tuesday. Doctors wouldn’t say if they expected him to survive.

“He’s my everything, my only child,” Jean said outside Jackson’s Ryder Trauma Center, her gray T-shirt soaked with her son’s blood. “Don’t bash us as parents, because we’re good parents. I can’t even talk about it. I heard a bang and jumped out of bed.”

An hour before sunrise, Darnal crawled out of the bed he shared with his mom — the child’s father was sleeping next to them — in an apartment complex at 112 NE 71st St. The building is a three-story, yellow Art Deco structure called “The Oasis,” across the street from a notorious housing project known to locals and law enforcement as “The Graveyard.”

Jean said she heard a shot and jumped out of bed. By the time she looked around she said Darnal’s father, Darnal Mundy Sr., was already out the door with the child in his arms. They jumped into the family car and sped to Jackson about five miles away, running red lights and hitting another car.

“He was crying the whole way,” Jean said of her son. “I hit a car, ran red lights. They can sue me, I don’t care. He’s my everything.”

Darnal Sr. and Jean both own guns, she said. Jean said they typically keep the weapons unloaded and locked up in a top drawer that they didn’t think Darnal Jr. could reach. She believes her son was reaching for an iPad when he found the weapon.

“We both have firearms,” Jean said. “We always secure it.”

Police were notified of the shooting by hospital workers after the child was rushed into surgery. They quickly mobilized, racing to the apartment to secure evidence and to the hospital to talk to Darnal’s parents and other potential witnesses.

Jean’s Facebook page, filled with pictures and videos of her son, says she works at Miami’s AlliedBarton Security Services. A woman who answered the phone there and identified herself as the compliance coordinator confirmed Jean’s employment and said she works as an unarmed guard for the company.

One of Jean’s Facebook videos shows a child who appears to be about a year old, wearing diapers and dragging a crib across an apartment’s tiled floor. Posted on top of the video are the words: “My son strong.”

In another video of the same child, a woman repeatedly refers to him as Darnal as he walks toward the camera, arms raised with a big smile on his face.

“I’m very emotional right now,” Jean said outside Jackson while catching her breath and holding back tears. “I love my son. Please pray for him right now.”