NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News police officer has been criminally charged after his 2-year-old son fatally shot himself with the officer’s service weapon.

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Court documents show that Stefhone Christian McCombs Sr. was charged on February 8 with a misdemeanor charge of allowing access to firearms by a minor. The charges are in connection with an October 2021 shooting that resulted in the death of his 2-year-old son.

25-year-old McCombs Sr. told police that when he got home from work on October 29, 2021, he took his service weapon and put it on the couch next to him. The weapon was described as not being “inside a safe” and “was still fully loaded with a round in the chamber.”

About five hours later, he went into the kitchen after his two children returned home. While in there, he “heard a loud gunshot and ran to the living room.” In the living room, he found his two-year-old son bleeding and crying. The service weapon was on the couch covered in blood.

The officer picked up Stefhone Christian McCombs Jr. and drove him to Mary Immaculate Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew says he believes the misdemeanor is the best charge to fit the accidental death.

“He lost a 2-year-old child and I can’t imagine how that affects a family,” he said. “With the situation and the incident that we had that this charge seemed to fit what we had. This was an accident. There was no malice or intent.”

The Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney’s Office will serve as a special prosecutor in the case after being asked to take over the case by the Newport News commonwealth’s attorney.

Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney Ramin Fatehi says they accepted the request on February 16.

“It’s for the integrity of the whole process because everybody is entitled to a fair trial, both the person who is accused, any victims that’re in the case and the public at large,” said Fatehi.

10 On Your Side asked Drew why the department didn’t release any information about the shooting before charges were filed.

“I did not want to publicize, sensationalize, or highlight the death of a 2-year-old by accident,” he said.

Drew says they would handle the case the same way, even if McCombs wasn’t an officer.

“It may not have been the right decision, but for me, for the humanity side, what we’re dealing with, the totality of the circumstances, what I had in this case in this incident, I would not handle this any different if this was a citizen,” he said.

McCombs Sr. told officials that his son “shot himself with his issued duty weapon.” It has been identified as a Glock 21 Gen4 .45 semi-automatic pistol.

In the criminal complaint, McCombs Sr. said it was “not his normal practice to leave his firearms unattended, unsecured and in the reach of either of his children.” He added that it was “not his intent to cause injury” to his son.

He was not physically arrested, but given a summons to appear in court on February 22. His next court date is March 16.