Details emerge about shooting death of 10-year-old Beloit boy
Kyle Boomer, Deputy Chief of Investigations for the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office, calls this a "terrible situation." He told us that from his perspective, he sees some inaccuracies in our story but "nothing I can comment on," especially since juveniles are involved. He wants to respect privacy "frankly, for both families."
The mother of a 10-year-old Beloit boy gave us more information on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 about the incident in which her son was shot to death at a friend's house. We also reached out to the attorneys involved. The defense attorney Jason Tempin told us, "While I genuinely appreciate your reaching out to me regarding this matter, I do not comment on pending cases."
More about this tragedy
On Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, around 7 p.m., Ashley Gray dropped off her 10-year-old son Aidyn Hansen at the home of Jose Manuel Sandoval-Tenorio in South Beloit, Illinois. Aidyn had been friends with Sandoval-Tenorio's 9-year-old son since they were four or five. Ashley says the boys basically spent the whole summer together and she never had any issues with the child or his parents. The Sandoval-Tenorio home is in Northgate Estates, just south of Shirland Road on Townline Avenue.
Though it has a South Beloit mailing address, Northgate Estates is in unincorporated Winnebago County, in Rockton Township, and is served by the Rockton Fire Protection District. Aidyn's cousin also lives in Northgate Estates and was friends of both boys.
According to the Rockford Register Star, prosecutors say that when Sandoval-Tenorio went out with his wife to a festival in Beloit Friday night, he left the boys alone at home, with two unsecured pistols hidden under a loose floorboard in his bedroom. But Ashley says the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office told her that Aidyn's friend had opened an unlocked gun case in his parent's bedroom.
At 7:26 p.m. Ashley texted Aidyn to remind him to tell his friend's parents if he got hungry - Aidyn was the type who wouldn't have said anything, she says.
But at 7:20 p.m. the 9-year-old friend had called Aidyn's cousin, according to what Ashley says she was told by Winnebago County Sheriff's. They have not confirmed if the shooting had already taken place.
More than half an hour later, at 7:58 p.m. Aidyn's cousin called Ashley to say that her son had a "hole in his stomach." The cousin had been told that Aidyn was unconscious. Ashley called 911. Winnebago County Sheriff's deputies were there three minutes later, Ashley was there in four. When Ashley asked her son's 9-year-old friend what happened, she says he laughed and didn't say anything. She watched as Rockton paramedics carried her son to the ambulance to Javon Bea Hospital. Though Beloit Hospital is closer, Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson tells us, "Beloit Hospital is not a Level I trauma center, Mercy / Javon Bea is." The only other Level I hospital in our area is OSF St. Anthony Medical Center.
Less than an hour later, doctors informed her that Aidyn had died from a bullet wound to his heart.
According to Ashley, Winnebago County Sheriff's Office says her son's friend made a video of the incident on his phone and hid the gun afterwards. She says the bullet wound indicates that Aidyn had his back to the shooter, but was turning toward him, perhaps in response to hearing his name.
The father, Jose Manuel Sandoval-Tenorio, was later charged with endangering the life or health of a child and not having a Firearm Owners Identification Card. Associate Judge Scott R. Paccagnini ruled that he was not a danger to society and is not a flight risk, so he was released until his next hearing on Oct. 17. But the judge also ordered him not to have contact with his wife or children and to stay away from the family home in South Beloit. He also may not have access to weapons or guns.
Ashley says Aidyn had been taught gun safety, and if he knew that another child was playing with a loaded gun, she says "he would have never, ever been there." Even at home, they didn't let him play shooting games. If a friend wanted to, Aidyn would have said, "Then you have to ask my mom if I can do this." She owns a gun herself but says her children don't know where she keeps it.
As for Aidyn's 9-year-old friend, Ashley says, "I'm never going to know for sure whether he meant it or not." She adds, "The child needs to get help" but "he is a child." However, she feels the father should be held accountable for what happened, as she should be if she were in his place. She says when children are at her home, she feels that "those kids are my children and it's my responsibility to protect them."