According to Kent County Attorney Chris Becker, 13-year charges have been filed against the grandfather of Gabriel Hojnacki’s pal. According to Becker, the elderly man is charged with accidentally murdering the teenager in May in the Western Grand neighborhood of Grand Rapids.
According to court documents, George Jay Gross Jr., 60, accidentally left a firearm on a bedside table where children could get it. If found guilty, the suspect would likely spend 15 years of his life in prison.
A look into the accidental death of Gabriel Hojnacki
On May 28, 2022, Gabriel Hojnacki was with a friend at the friend’s grandfather’s house on Alpenallee. Hojnacki was fatally shot in the chest by the two teenagers’ toy gun as they were playing with it. He received emergency medical attention and was later pronounced dead.
On the day of the incident, a Grand Rapids Police Department detective testified in court on a probable cause document. According to the officer, Gross Jr.’s grandson, who is currently charged as an adult, entered the former’s bedroom and removed the pistol from the bedside table. The youth was accidentally fatally shot.
According to an affidavit, Gross’s grandson stood in the doorway between the living room and kitchen while Gabriel Hojnacki rested on the couch. Hojnacki’s friend reportedly later admitted to authorities that he had held the gun in one hand when firing and therefore had no memory of pulling the trigger.
According to Gross, the youths were tinkering with his .45 caliber pistol when he opened fire. He further stated that the rifle was kept in an unlocked dresser in his bedroom during his working hours. According to Gross’s grandson, the gun was discovered on the bedside table.
According to court records, police discovered a handgun in the nightstand drawer along with two other guns in a concealed drawer. Gross admitted to police that he couldn’t remember whether or not he had stowed the gun with a cartridge in the chamber after it was discovered. He claimed that he thought all guns were safe.
In addition, the 60-year-old admitted in an affidavit that he may have mentioned the pistols a few years ago. Gross said his adult son was giving him trouble and trying to enter his property.
Bradley Peri, a lawyer for Gabriel Hojnacki’s family, commented on the incident, calling it “a terrible tragedy that should not have happened”. The family, he continued, is relieved that Gross, the gun’s owner, is facing consequences.
Peri went on to explain that while Gabriel cannot be saved, if the tragedy could cause a gun owner to change his behavior and save a life, his death will not have been in vain.
While it is true that people have the right to own firearms, he concluded that they are also responsible for keeping them locked and unloaded. Peri explained that this would only be to protect children and prevent incidents like Gabriel’s death.