Gun Owner Arrested in Boy's Death

Eric Klyaz, 10, died from a gunshot wound to the chest on June 4

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Paul Krueger
    A memorial set up for Eric Klyaz in the Miramar Ranch North neighborhood.

    Investigators have arrested a San Diego man on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and criminal storage of a firearm after the shooting death of a 10-year-old boy.

    Todd Francis, 52, surrendered to authorities Tuesday at San Diego police headquarters downtown.

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    Two weeks earlier, Francis' 9-year--old daughter was playing with Eric Klyaz in the family's garage in Miramar Ranch North. The children were playing with a firearm.

    Klyaz was shot once in the chest with the gun, which investigators say was loaded and not locked. The boy died from his injury.

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    Francis' daughter was uninjured but shaken up, police said. She was questioned by investigators about the events leading to the fatal gunfire.

    Homicide investigators said the gun was found in an area easily accessible to children.

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    However, through his attorney, Francis said he doesn’t know how the kids were able to get a hold of his gun. 

    He also said the gun “... was not loaded and hidden in a separate location from the ammunition. Neither the gun nor the clip were immediately accessible to children and were hidden separately for home security."

    As a result of a search warrant on the family's home, investigators took into custody a Sig-Sauer 9 mm handgun wrapped in a white T-shirt, a single bullet casing, a Remington 970 shotgun, a holder and blood evidence.

    Francis was booked into the central jail at 12:24 p.m. Tuesday and released just before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday on $100,000 bail, officials said.

    His attorney wanted to stress that her client surrendered himself to authorities voluntarily.

    Meanwhile, the San Diego County District Attorney said its prosecutors are reviewing the evidence and will determine whether to file charges. An arraignment date was set for June 25.

    On Wednesday, SDPD Lt. Jorge Duran told NBC 7 that all three charges filed against Francis are felonies. If convicted of all three charges, the San Diego Count District Attorney's office says Francis faces up to seven years and eight months in state prison.

    Duran said police found two guns inside Francis’ home at the time of the shooting. One firearm was secured while the other -- a semi-automatic handgun -- was not. That was the weapon that was accidentally discharged in the garage.

    Duran said Klyaz was killed by a single bullet to the chest. He said investigators are still trying to determine exactly how the weapon discharged. Duran said investigators do not yet know which child actually pulled the trigger and fired the fatal shot.

    Duran said Francis’ daughter told investigators that she and Klyaz were both handling the gun at the same time, and both apparently had their fingers on the trigger.

    Francis was not in the garage with the children at the time of the shooting, Duran said.

    Meanwhile, Duran said Klyaz was laid to rest and buried Tuesday. A neighbor of the Klyaz family told NBC 7 that Francis and his family have moved out of their home in the Miramar Ranch North community.

    Todd Francis is the brother of former mayoral candidate and millionaire businessman Steve Francis.

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