2-year-old boy kills himself, felon gun owner tries hard to avoid arrest

2-year-old boy kills himself, felon gun owner tries hard to avoid arrest

(As originally published with additional photos, Tue, November 28th 2023, 10:36 PM EST)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (TND) — A man in Michigan is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and federal prosecutors said his gun killed a two-year-old boy.

According to the feds, Avis Damone Coward, 43, “got out of a car at a Lansing gas station and went inside, leaving a two-year-old child and his mother in the car.”

That was in the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 24.

“Surveillance video showed that a minute later, a bullet hole appeared in the car window. The mother got out of the car, holding her child, who had blood on his face from a gunshot wound.”

The boy “had a gunshot wound to his head,” the criminal complaint said.

Then, “Coward’s gun fell out of the car. The child later died from his injuries.

“Coward returned to the car, he picked up the gun and put it back in the car.”

Then, according to the criminal complaint, he “used his hand to break out the front window, which had the bullet hole,” and drove away in the vehicle, which was actually a GMC Yukon SUV.

The mother later spoke to police.

“She said that she was on the phone and not paying attention when she heard an ‘explosion’ and saw that her child had shot himself in the head.”

Coward was found and arrested later that day, “wearing different clothes than at the gas station, but officers found glass shards on his pant leg.”

Yet they couldn’t find the vehicle.

2-year-old boy kills himself, felon gun owner tries hard to avoid arrest
Avis Coward at the gas station (from left), during his arrest, and his booking photo, Oct. 24-27, 2023. (U.S. Attorney’s Office | Ingham Co. Sheriff’s Office)

That problem was solved after “Coward made several calls from the jail.”

The next morning, he “called the man and a woman. The man offered to ‘put away’ anything Coward needed.”

Later, the woman said she would retrieve one of his phones — “actually referring to the Smith & Wesson and Springfield Armory pistols” —

“and Coward interrupted and instructed her to ‘do that right now, like right now, right now.’”

Investigators identified and arrested the man a week after the shooting.

That same day, investigators found the Yukon.

“It was in a field in Lansing, heavily damaged by fire,” they reported.

Coward’s previous felonies were breaking and entering in 1998, carrying a concealed weapon in 1998, delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance in 1999, carjacking in 2003, brandishing a firearm during the commission of a violent felony in 2003, and fleeing from a police officer in 2021.

“Beginning in 2022, and for the first time ever, gun violence has become the number one cause of death for kids in America,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten explained.

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