Fatal shooting of 9-year-old child in Arboles confirmed

According to Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez, the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office (ASO) was notified at 2:58 p.m. Friday that a juvenile had been shot in the Arboles area.

Sheriff’s office personnel responded to the scene along with the Southern Ute Police Department and a Los Pinos ambulance.

Valdez said that upon arrival at the scene, deputies discovered a 9-year-old child who had been fatally wounded.

The scene was secured and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) from Grand Junction was notified of the incident.

During the course of investigation by CBI and detectives from ASO, it was discovered that there were three juveniles, ages 7, 9 and 10, who were being supervised by an older sibling.

Valdez said the older sibling told the three to go outside and play, believing they were playing on their property. Instead, the three juveniles made their way to a nearby, unoccupied summer home.

Evidence shows the three juveniles forced entry into the residence. According to Valdez, while inside the residence, they obtained entry into a locked cabinet and discovered two firearms, one of which was loaded.

The loaded weapon discharged, striking the 9-year-old and fatally wounding the child.

The two other juveniles returned to their residence seeking help and the oldest sibling called 9-1-1.

Valdez said that upon arrival, law enforcement discovered that the child was deceased.

The homeowner of the residence where the gun had been stored was contacted. According to Valdez, the homeowner told investigators that they had not been in town since June of 2016.

The victim’s family resides in Arboles and the victim attended school in Pagosa Springs.

“The school district will have additional counseling support available for children and staff at all schools tomorrow in light of the tragedy,” Archuleta School District Superintendent Linda Reed said. “Support will also come from San Juan BOCES and other districts.”

Valdez said, “My heart goes out to the family and friends of this child. This is a tragic event that has affected a lot of people, including my staff.”

Valdez said that due to lack of cellphone coverage, when the 9-1-1 call originally went out, it was routed to San Juan County in northern New Mexico. Later, when it was discovered to be a call from Colorado, it was routed to Archuleta County Combined Dispatch.

No charges have been filed in the incident and names have not been officially released at this time.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday in Durango.

This story was posted on March 4, 2018.