A Lady Lake father has been charged in an accidental shooting that claimed the life of his 12-year-old son.
Christopher David Wyatt, 31, was arrested Monday night on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child. He was booked at the Lake County Jail and released after posting $100,000 bond.
His son Jeramyah Wyatt was fatally wounded Aug. 31 at the family home at 5445 Singletary Road in Lady Lake.
Wyatt told investigators that he, his wife and their children watched a movie the night of Aug. 30 and they all fell asleep in the master bedroom. The next morning, Wyatt and his wife carried their one-month-old child downstairs, leaving Jeramyah and his 7-year-old and 10-year-old sisters alone in the master bedroom with a loaded Diamondback AR rifle, stored without a case under the bed.
The parents heard a loud bang followed by the 10-year-old screaming. Wyatt ran upstairs and discovered his son had been fatally shot in the head. EMS personnel arrived on the scene and determined Jeramyah had died as a result of the gunshot wound.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigators processed the scene and “photographed a blood impression in the victim’s left hand, which would be consistent with the victim holding the barrel of the rifle,” according to an arrest warrant. Jeramyah had apparently reached for the rifle. Crime scene investigators collected the AR rifle, casings, projectile and rifle case and determined the bullet’s trajectory.
Wyatt said that on Aug. 24 he heard his dogs barking and went outside with the AR rifle to investigate. When he returned he put the gun under the bed with a live round in the chamber. The gun remained there until the morning of the fatal shooting.
Child Protective Services in October 2019 had investigated a complaint that a firearm was being stored unsafely in the Wyatt home. Wyatt signed a firearm safety plan and agreed to properly store the weapon away from the children. He said he purchased the weapon, which did not have a safety lock, from a friend.