Little Deandre Vega hadn’t reached his second birthday. But he was the victim of a deadly argument between family members, Gwinnett County police said Wednesday.
Deandre, 23 months old, of Norcross, was shot and killed Tuesday night, allegedly by his grandfather, Cpl. Jake Smith said. The toddler was not the intended victim, Smith said.
“At this time, we don’t think he intended to actually shoot that child,” Smith said at the scene Tuesday night. “But we do believe he was trying to shoot someone else that was here.”
Wednesday morning, Deandre’s grandfather said he fired the shots in self-defense.
Luis Efrain Torres, 39, was at his home in the 5200 block of Stafford Drive, near Indian Trail Road, when investigators believe he got into an altercation with Deandre’s father. Deandre and his parents weren’t currently living with Torres, but previously had, police said Wednesday.
Deandre and his parents, including his father, Rochell McCoy, 29, returned to the Stafford Drive home Tuesday night.
It wasn’t known what led to the altercation between Torres and McCoy, according to police. But it was during that argument that Torres allegedly pulled a gun and fired shots toward McCoy, Smith said. One of those shots hit Deandre, who was less than three weeks shy of turning 2.
“I was arguing with him and him with me,” Torres told Channel 2 Action News. “And he threw me to the floor and pushed me and hit me.”
When Torres realized what happened, he ran to the child’s side, he said. He said he’s devastated by his grandson’s death.
Neighbors called 911 after hearing gunshots, and officers arrived to find the injured child in the driveway of the home. Deandre was transported by ambulance to the hospital, but did not survive, Smith said. No other injuries were reported.
Shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, Torres was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail, charged with murder and aggravated assault. He was being held without bond late Wednesday afternoon.
“I love my family, but I lost everything,” Torres said.