A look at the accident that killed Gabriel
On May 28, 2022, Gabriel Hojnacki was with a friend at the friend’s grandfather’s house on Alpenallee. The toy gun the two children were playing with killed Hojnacki by shooting him in the chest. He was taken to an emergency room and later pronounced dead.
On the day of the incident, a Grand Rapids Police Department investigator testified in court about a possible triggering document. The officer said Gross Jr.’s grandson, who is now an adult and is charged, went into his grandfather’s bedroom and grabbed the gun from the nightstand. This resulted in the teenager being accidentally shot and killed.
According to an affidavit, Gross’s grandson stood in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen while Gabriel Hojnacki slept on the couch. Hojnacki’s friend reportedly later told police that he was only holding the gun with one hand when it went off, so he didn’t think to pull the trigger.
Gross said the teenagers were playing around with his .45-caliber handgun when he started shooting. He also said that while he was working, the gun was in a dresser in his bedroom that was unlocked. In response to Gross’s grandson, the gun was found on the bedside table.
According to court documents, police found a pistol in the drawer by the bed and two other guns in a hidden drawer. Gross told police he couldn’t remember whether or not he put the gun down after finding it with a bullet in the chamber. He said he thought all the guns were cleared away.
The 60-year-old also said in an affidavit that he may have only discussed the guns a few years ago. Gross said his adult son was causing trouble and trying to get onto his property without permission.
Bradley Peri, a lawyer for Gabriel Hojnacki’s family, spoke about the issue, calling it “a terrible tragedy that should not have happened”. He went on to say that Gross’s family was relieved that he had to pay for what he had done.
Peri went on to explain that Gabriel could not be saved, but that if the tragedy had caused a gun owner to change his behavior and save a life, his death would not have been in vain.
He concluded by saying that people have the right to own guns, but they also have a responsibility to keep them locked and unloaded. Peri said this could only help protect children and prevent more deaths like Gabriel’s.