BR toddler dies after accidental shooting

A Baton Rouge man who authorities said was playing with a gun was booked with negligent homicide Tuesday in the accidental shooting death of his 2-year-old brother.

Terrance J. Varise, 18, 5108 Jean St., was playing with a .357-caliber handgun at 6:30 p.m. Monday when his younger brother Travin Varise walked into the room and was struck in the chest, police and family members said.

The boy was rushed to a hospital where he died Tuesday morning, police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said.

Terrance Varise admitted to detectives “that he was carelessly playing with the gun when it accidentally discharged,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.

“He had it in his hand, cocking it back and forth,” McKneely said, adding Terrance Varise had been upset about the shooting.

“The entire family was upset,” McKneely said. “They know it’s an accident. It wasn’t intentional.”

Terrance Varise’s uncle Calvin Varise said he had just left the Jean Street home Monday evening when he learned of the shooting via text message.

Calvin Varise said the family had not kept a gun in the home, adding he believes Terrance Varise got the weapon from a friend.

He said the teen had armed himself due to “environmental pressure” from neighborhood friends, whom he described as “roustabouts.”

“They’re just floating and they have no anchor to hold them down,” Calvin Varise said. “We’ve lost two.”

Terrance Varise was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on counts of negligent homicide, cruelty to a juvenile and felon in possession of a firearm. He was being held Tuesday afternoon without bond, prison officials said.

Court records show Terrance Varise had been on probation for a 2011 simple burglary of a motor vehicle in Iberville Parish. He pleaded guilty to the charge in May and received two years probation and a suspended two-year prison term, the records show.

Terrance Varise indicated on his Facebook page that he had an affinity for “shooting games” and Grand Theft Auto IV, a popular video game. One photograph shows him with his eyes closed, holding a revolver at his side.

Police declined to say whether the weapon in the photograph was the same used in the accidental shooting.

Calvin Varise said the family had not objected to the counts against his nephew.

“God is just,” he said, “and he’s going to deal with it according to his structure.”

The mother of the victim, Yenell Varise, was too distraught to speak to reporters Tuesday.

Calvin Varise said he will remember Travin as an energetic boy who loved playing outdoors and watching “Finding Nemo.”

“He had a smile,” he said. “He was a beautiful little kid. He mimicked me like my son. I loved him to death.

“Guns are not to be played with. Now we’ve got to figure out a way to bury the little man. You wouldn’t expect a little infant to die.”

Travin’s death marked the second accidental fatal shooting in Baton Rouge in three days.

A rifle accidentally discharged early Saturday morning killing an 18-year-old Denham Springs man while he was at a house on Main Street, McKneely has said. Trevon Wilson, 8639 Forrest Delatte Road, Denham Springs, died at a hospital from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

No one has been arrested in that shooting, police spokesman Lt. Don Kelly said Tuesday.

On Dec. 29, deputies in Ascension Parish arrested a 14-year-old boy accused of accidentally shooting 13-year-old Christian Crain in the head while playing with a stolen .38 special revolver with two other teenagers in the bedroom of a Prairieville trailer.