The shooting appears to have been a tragic accident and the handgun was not a department-issued weapon. What happened only took a second, but the pain will last a lifetime. "I thought it was a firecracker, but obviously it was a gunshot. Just one shot is all I heard," neighbor Lena De Santiago told ABC7 News. Three-year-old Preston Orlando was in an upstairs bedroom when the gun went off. He died on the way to the hospital.
His father is Officer Brandon Orlando, a nine-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department. Dozens of officers including the police chief were at the hospital with the family Thursday night. "There is no wall you can put up for that. It cuts right though the heart. Like I said, when it does that to one of our officers, it does that to all of us and we all feel it," said Sgt. Jason Dwyer.
Gilroy police are now heading a multi-agency investigation. "At this time, it does appear to be accidental. However, there are things that we will be focusing on during the course of the investigation. One of those things will be how the firearms were stored inside the residence," said Sgt. Chad Gallacina with the Gilroy Police Department.
Neighbors say they are saddened by the toddler's death, but also wondering how it could happen in the home of a police officer. "It should have been, you know, secured, locked away, unloaded perhaps," said neighbor Monique Lomas. The currently unanswered questions are overshadowed by a profound sense of grief. Lomas says she often saw Preston playing with his sister. "To think that there is only going to be one now... It's really sad. I can't even imagine what they are going through," she said.
Orlando's co-workers say he has their full support. "What we need to be concerned about is taking care of Brandon and his family, making sure they have what they need at this very difficult time for them," Dwyer said.
San Jose police are allowed to carry their own handguns, as long as they are approved.