TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was a tragedy beyond comprehension that shattered the lives of two families in Toms River, New Jersey.
Six-year-old Brandon Holt was shot by his 4-year-old playmate with a gun that had been left unsecured, CBS2’s Christine Sloane reported. For the first time, the public heard from Brandon’s parents who testified Monday in the civil trial of the gun owner.
The mother and father relived the painful moment of running up to their neighbor’s home to find their 6-year-old son accidentally shot in the head by another child. He was still conscious in a gold cart, but later died in the hospital.
“He was laying on the bench like the seat laying down… he was bleeding,” mother Christine Holt said. “I was just rubbing his legs telling him I was there, telling him to breath ’cause he was trying to breath… I just kept telling him I loved him.”
Ronald Hold, the victim’s father, said he “could see [his] son’s eye really swollen and trying to catch his breath.”
Defendant Anthony Senatore confirmed that the gun in his son’s hand was his while testifying in the wrongful death suit against him.
Senatore said he forgot he had placed the .22-caliber rifle under his bed. He’s already served nine months in the criminal case.
“When the gun went off I turned around, realized what gun it had been so I immediately removed it from his hands,” he said. “My daughter had came around the side of my house and said, “Dad, Brandon was shot.'”
The judge is awarding the couple $572,588 dollars, but they say it wasn’t about the money.
“I just want everyone to now just lock up your guns. That’s what it was about today– just lock up your guns,” Christine Holt said.
The Holts told CBS2 they now have an 18-month-old child. Senatore’s attorney said the owner of the gun is suffering too.
The couple was awarded compensatory damages on Monday, but everyone is due back in court in a month for the judge’s punitive damages decision.