A bizarre and tragic story has emerged out of Houston this week, where a 7-year-old child with autism accidentally shot and killed his 5-year-old brother after they were left alone in a motel room.
The boys’ father, Vincent Del Sol, was said to be paying the room’s bill when the older child shot his younger brother in the torso with a shotgun. The dad returned to the room to the horrifying scene and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter, but it was too late.
The family had been living in the Houston-area Motel 6 for a year after a move from California, due to the father’s ongoing search for employment. Del Sol told police he was planning to pawn his gun and some power tools to help make ends meet.
In another twist to this story, Child Protective Services (CPS) on Wednesday was granted temporary custody of the 7-year-old after a hearing was held in which the father did not show up for. The boy’s mother is currently in jail after being arrested last month on a probation violation charge stemming from a child endangerment incident several years ago, when the boy was found wandering alone near an interstate highway.
Investigators said the shooting was an accident, but the district attorney’s office is still deciding on whether or not the father will face any charges.
This story is very fluid and there are conflicting versions of events being reported. One thing is for certain: this family needed help. CPS was said to be previously involved in their lives, but it’s unclear how they managed to fall through the cracks.
Raising a child with autism is difficult enough with an intact, functional family unit. When other factors are involved, such as irresponsible parenting or unstable environments, the results can often lead to tragic and disastrous consequences.
Respite care for families of children with autism has been a growing need and such services would go a long way in preventing these types of tragedies in the future. More to come on this important issue.