Crime

James Chavez allegedly left loaded gun in 4-year old's backpack, then sent her to kindergarten

Earlier today, we told you about a gun found in a kindergartener's backpack in Lakewood. And it hadn't been brought to school for show and tell.

Now, more details: The person who allegedly left the gun in this spot is James Chavez, 27. The gun was loaded -- and the little girl unwittingly packing heat is just four-years old.

This information comes courtesy of Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis, who shares the events that took place at Molholm Elementary School.

"The teacher indicated to us that she was getting some of the kids' belongings together for the end of the school day, and she found this weapon in the backpack of the four-year-old child," Davis says.

Both Chavez and the girl's grandmother were contacted by the school, and after their arrival, Davis believes they were initially unaware that LPD personnel were also on the scene. Under police questioning, "Mr. Chavez indicated to us that he had placed the gun in her backpack earlier in the morning and forgot it was there."

According to Chavez, he had a loaded gun on hand "because he'd been the victim of a shooting sometime in the past and carried it for protection," Davis goes on. "But why it was placed in a four-year-old's backpack, I have no idea. I certainly can't think of a good reason. It was a tragedy waiting to happen, and luckily it did not."

Chavez was subsequently booked on charges of child abuse, reckless endangerment and bringing a loaded weapon onto school property -- although the specifics of that could change depending upon the determination of the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.

Davis adds that as far as his officers could tell, the four-year old had no idea she had a gun in her backpack. Which turned out to be a very good thing.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts