GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The parents and relative of a four-year-old boy shot and killed in Gaston County Tuesday were arrested, according to police.

After consulting with the district’s office, officials decided to arrest the three adults for felony involuntary manslaughter, felony child abuse, and the misdemeanor charge of storing a firearm in a manner accessible to a minor.

Those arrested were:

  • Savannah Leigh Brehm, 22
  • Hector Manuel Mendoza, 22
  • Keith Strughill, 21
Savannah Leigh Brehm, Hector Manuel Mendoza, Keith Strughill (Gaston Co. Police Department)

The incident happened around 4:20 p.m. on the 100 block of Cindy Lane off Hickory Grove Road.

Officials responded to a residence on Cindy Lane for a shooting; upon arrival, they found a boy suffering from a gunshot wound.

EMS immediately took life-saving measures, but the child was pronounced deceased.

Investigation revealed the ‘descendent and one of his siblings found the firearm.’ While in possession of the gun, it discharged one time, hitting and killing the child, police said.

“When a child is involved, it’s very gut-wrenching,” said Capt. Billy Downey. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s very shocking to the system.”

Neighbors quickly learned despite life-saving actions; the child didn’t survive.

“It broke my heart, to be honest,” said neighbor Sierra Stevens. “The family, I feel really bad for them. I just wish that gun was locked up.”

The home remained off-limits throughout Tuesday with crime scene tape as police interviewed family and neighbors. Animal services removed at least two dogs from the home.

“Please make sure you lock your guns up,” Downey said. “They’re very cheap. They’re not hard to come by.”