ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico police are investigating a 10-year-old boy in the shooting death of his father but couldn't say Friday whether the incident was accidental or intentional. A neighbor described the victim and his children as "a good family."
Police Sgt. Joe Portio said officers responded to a call of shots fired about 6:30 p.m. Thursday at a home in Belen and found 42-year-old Byron James Hilburn with a head wound.
Investigators said the boy and his 6-year-old sister were there, too. Portio said police believe the boy fired the fatal shot but declined to disclose details.
Hilburn was pronounced dead at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. Portio said the boy was taken into the custody of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department at an undisclosed location.
The girl was placed with relatives, police said.
Portio couldn't offer a motive, saying police were still investigating.
"I can't elaborate more on whether the shooting was an accident or on purpose. We have to have time to finish the investigation," he said.
Police were studying the gunshot wound to determine what type of weapon was used, Portio said.
Investigators began searching the home late Thursday. Papers there showed that the divorced father had full custody of the children, Portio said.
Next-door neighbor Elaine Sanchez said they were just "normal, regular neighbors that we used to say hi and bye to."
"We never saw nothing going on, and they seemed like a normal family. We knew they were a good family," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said her daughter played with the girl who lived there.
"We live just a few feet from them. My little daughter likes to go out and ride her bike and now I keep thinking, 'What if she had been hit, too?' " Sanchez said.
Belen is 35 miles south of Albuquerque.