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A 3-year-old Montana boy died Wednesday after an intoxicated man shot him in the back with a gun he says he didn’t know was loaded.

Galen Hawk, 26, has since been charged with negligent homicide in the death of Lonato Moran-Allen. The two were playing together when the shooting occurred. Hawk and Lonato lived in the same Polson, Mont. residence, but were not related.

From the Associated Press:

Hawk told investigators that he saw the boy holding his gun Wednesday evening and took it away, court records said. Hawk said the boy then ran down the hallway, looking back toward him while pretending to shoot a toy gun. Hawk says he pointed his gun at the child in response and pulled the trigger, believing the gun wasn’t loaded because the magazine was in his pocket.

The bullet entered the boy’s upper back near his right shoulder and exited through his lower chest on his left side, an autopsy found.

Hawk and two other residents of the house took the boy to the hospital, where he died less than three weeks before his fourth birthday.

Hawk was drinking whiskey and lemonade before the shooting. He was “buzzed,” according to charging documents.

“He chose to take a handgun … a .380 handgun, loaded, while he was intoxicated, and pointed it at a child,” Lake County Deputy Attorney James Lapotka said Friday during Hawk’s initial appearance in Justice Court.

Hawk has also requested via a public defender to attend the child’s funeral. The judge has not yet decided if he will grant the request.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lonato’s family during this difficult time.


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