Lake County father arrested after 12-year-old son fatally shoots himself, deputies say

Christopher Wyatt left loaded assault-style rifle under bed, affidavit shows

Christopher Wyatt is being held in the Lake County Jail.
Christopher Wyatt is being held in the Lake County Jail. (Copyright 2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A Lake County father is facing an aggravated manslaughter charge Tuesday after deputies say he recklessly left his assault-style rifle under his bed, leaving it available for his son to fatally shoot himself.

Jeremyah Wyatt, 12, died Aug. 31, after suffering a gunshot wound to the head.

The boy was sleeping on the floor of the master bedroom with his 7-year-old sister close by and his 10-year-old sister on the bed, the arrest affidavit reads. The children were in the room the night before along with their 1-month-old sister with their parents and had fallen asleep while watching a movie. Investigators say Wyatt had previously stored his assault-style rifle underneath the bed, close to where the children were sleeping.

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Just before 9 a.m. the next morning, Wyatt and his wife went downstairs with their infant. Not long after, they heard a loud bang and their 10-year-old daughter scream, according to a report. Wyatt ran upstairs and found his son lying on the floor with a bullet wound in his head next to the assault-style rifle. The affidavit outlines Wyatt then took his children and wife downstairs, unloaded the firearm and then called 911.

Deputies say the firearm did not have a safety. In October of last year, authorities had also investigated a complaint regarding the unsafe storage of a firearm at Wyatt’s home. The 31-year-old signed a firearm safety plan, agreeing to properly store his firearms away from his children, Lake County Sheriff’s Office records show.

A medical examiner determined the child’s cause of death was an accident. However, deputies say Wyatt improperly and carelessly stored a functioning and loaded assault-style rifle underneath his bed. Their investigation revealed the child reached for the firearm, accidentally discharging it, according to a report.

Wyatt turned himself into authorities and is now facing aggravated manslaughter of a child charge. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on a $100,000 bond.