Advertisement
  1. News

Grandfather of toddler who shot himself: 'Guns and kids don't mix'

Police officers stand guard Wednesday near the East Lake home where authorities say 2-year-old Kaleb Ahles died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Published Jan. 23, 2015

EAST LAKE — Robert Edgar was playing catch with his 16-year-old son when he heard the scream.

He rushed toward the source of the commotion: Across the street, Kevin Ahles had just opened the driver's door of a Nissan Altima and lifted his 2-year-old son, limp and unconscious, into his arms.

The father yelled his son's name again and again. His mother, Christina Nigro, pulled up his shirt, revealing blood on Kaleb's tiny chest.

Nigro performed CPR as Ahles called 911. They used a jacket to press on the wound to stop the bleeding, Edgar said.

As paramedics rushed Kaleb away, Ahles collapsed.

"He couldn't speak. He couldn't function. . . . That poor father is going to be in hell forever," Edgar said. "To get on a witch hunt would be the wrong thing to do."

Although parents can be criminally charged in Florida if their child is hurt with their loaded firearm, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Thursday that because the gun was stowed away in the car, the law doesn't apply in this incident to Ahles, a concealed weapons permit holder with a .380-caliber handgun.

"I don't think that it rises to the level of criminal scrutiny," Gualtieri said. "A series of events tragically lined up the way they did for this to happen."

Ahles' father, Kevin Ahles, said his son is well schooled in the rules of gun safety and had taken a course.

"I'm not blaming my son. Guns and kids don't mix," said Ahles, 57, a retired Tampa police detective. "He loves his kids. It's just a tragic accident, although things could have been safer to prevent it."

The younger Ahles, 23, is a restaurant manager at Gulf View Square Mall's Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen, where he works long, late hours, his father said.

His son and Nigro, also 23, were high school sweethearts. They had a rocky relationship recently, but "things were looking up," the elder Ahles said.

The couple, who also have a 4-year-old son, were moving into the younger Ahles' apartment and planned to move into a Brooksville house after his lease ended.

"They were just approved for a home," the senior Ahles said. "Now they're going to be planning for a funeral."

On Wednesday afternoon, they were packing up things at a house on Misty Hollow Court in East Lake, where Nigro had been staying.

Nigro was at the trunk of the family's Nissan Altima while Ahles played with a toy with his older son. Kaleb, a stocky brown-haired boy, was inside the car, playing with the radio and the windshield wipers.

Ahles told his family it was time to go. One minute later, they heard a gunshot, Gualtieri said.

Kaleb was rushed to Medical Center of Trinity, where he died. Ahles was so distraught, Gualtieri said, that he was also hospitalized.

A Florida law passed in 1989 states that a parent of children who hurt themselves or others with their gun can be criminally charged unless the gun was stored in a securely locked box or in a place that a person would reasonably believe to be secure.

Another law states that it is legal for gun owners to keep their weapons in a vehicle's glove box or center compartment.

Gualtieri said Ahles abided by both laws. Ahles told investigators he usually kept his gun on him, but had placed it in either the glove box or center compartment while moving Wednesday.

"I don't think the statute applies," Gualtieri said. "There is nobody in the justice system that can punish these parents and hold them more accountable than what they will endure themselves for the rest of their lives."

On Thursday morning, Kaleb's older brother played inside his grandfather's home as the family struggled to find the words to tell him his little brother was gone.

"He thought he was asleep," the elder Ahles said. "This is a parent's and grandparent's worst nightmare."

Times staff researchers John Martin and Carolyn Edds, as well as staff writers Curtis Krueger and Claire McNeill, contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at lmorel@tampabay.com or (727)445-4157. Follow @lauracmorel.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Rabbi Reb Tuviah (Paul Schreiber) is rarely seen without his guitar. He will sing at the upcoming Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at Temple Beth David in Spring Hill. Paul Schreiber
  2. Waves crash in front of an American flag that is planted on a jetty during a high surf from the Atlantic Ocean, in advance of the potential arrival of Hurricane Dorian, in Vero Beach on Sept. 2. GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Their efforts underscore the risks of a warming planet for the state’s future.
  3. The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm advisory for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Tropical Storm Karen currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. National Weather Service
    A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for the eastern Caribbean
  4. A Thomas Cook plane on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport in Sussex, England Monday. British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded abroad. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP) STEVE PARSONS  |  AP
    The collapse of the firm will have sweeping effects across the entire European and North African tourism industry and elsewhere.
  5. Natalie D'Alessandro and Izaac Deal break out into dance during the inaugural Pride Festival in 2018 in downtown New Port Richey. BY MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller, Times Staff
    New Port Richey gathering will feature a week of lead-up events.
  6. When police officers arrived at the home, they found the man dead from an apparent gunshot wound on the back patio of the house. Port St. Lucie Police Department/Facebook
    The man called dispatchers late Saturday to say he had fatally shot his wife and her boyfriend, and that there were two children inside the home.
  7. Dear Penny: Will bad credit kill my chances of landing my dream job? FRANCESCORIDOLFI.COM  |  Getty Images/iStockphoto
    Be up front about your circumstances.
  8. Don Green of St. Petersburg demonstrates a hamstring stretch. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    These muscles are important. A few key exercises can help you get them - and keep them - in shape.
  9. FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2012, file photo, Hunter Biden waits for the start of the his father's, Vice President Joe Biden's, debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. In 2014, then-Vice President Joe Biden was at the forefront of American diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine's fragile democratic government as it sought to fend off Russian aggression and root out corruption. So it raised eyebrows when Biden's son Hunter was hired by a Ukrainian gas company. President Donald Trump prodded Ukraine's president to help him investigate any corruption related to Joe Biden, now one of the top Democrats seeking to defeat Trump in 2020. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    The younger Biden’s business role raised concerns among anticorruption advocates that Burisma was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement