Man charged in connection with death of 4-year-old son
This is the home on Ash Lane in Chestnuthill Township where Bently Koch accidentally got his father's gun and shot himself. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
A Monroe County man has been charged in connection with the accidental shooting of his 4-year-old son in Chestnuthill Township.
Ryan Koch, 21, of Saylorsburg, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by trooper Shaun Flynn of the Pennsylvania State Police, at 11:11 a.m. June 18, state police at Fern Ridge received a call from the Monroe County 911 Center about a 4-year-old unconscious boy at the home.
The boy, Bentley Thomas Koch, was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital — Pocono by West End EMS.
Troopers saw a spent cartridge casing on the living room floor and a handgun was observed on top of a cabinet in the room.
A blood trail was found leading from the living room to the bathroom, where a blood-soaked rag was observed in a sink.
None of the people at the residence claimed to have heard a gunshot.
That day, the father of the victim, Koch, was interviewed at the station.
Koch said the night before, June 17, he played video games in the living room and did “smoke a bowl” of marijuana out on his front porch.
He said that he placed his handgun on a shelf behind a decorative football helmet before going to bed at about 3 a.m.
Koch then said he woke up at about 10:45 a.m. the next day and went downstairs from his bedroom.
He said that he and the boy slept in separate bedrooms upstairs, and that he went downstairs to begin looking for the boy because he was not in his bedroom.
Koch found him lying face down, with his face covered in blood.
Koch said he initially thought the child suffered a nose bleed from falling against a table, and carried him to a bathroom while yelling for help.
He said his grandmother and uncle came to his aid and began cleaning the boy’s face.
Koch said he then noticed a hole in the boy’s face and realized it was a gunshot wound. He said he went into the living room and found his semi-automatic handgun on the floor where the boy was located and placed the handgun on a shelf in the living room.
Koch was questioned multiple times and continued to state that he did not leave the handgun loaded and had placed it on a shelf behind the football helmet, and that there was not a live round in the chamber and that his son must have chambered a round by himself.
Koch was then transported back to his residence and was asked to show exactly where he thought that he left the weapon.
While troopers were initially talking to him, Koch continued to state that he left the handgun behind the football helmet and he never chambered a live round.
About 30 minutes into the discussion, he then stated, “OK, guys, here it is.”
Koch said he always carries his handgun with him, usually in his pocket, and that when he is not carrying it, he usually leaves it under his bed pillow or on a shelf behind the football helmet in the living room.
Koch maintained that he never keeps a live round in the chamber, but acknowledged he keeps a loaded magazine within the handgun.
Koch then changed his story when questioned about the previous night.
He said the child went to sleep in his bedroom at around 10:45 p.m., while Koch said he stayed up and played video games in the living room before he “smoked a bowl” of marijuana outside on the porch at around 1 a.m. while watching YouTube videos on his cellphone.
Koch returned inside and continued to play video games until around 3 a.m., before going to sleep in his own bedroom.
He maintained that he hid the handgun on a shelf behind a football helmet before going to bed, and that he heard a loud noise outside after going to bed and went downstairs to investigate.
He armed himself with his handgun and began looking out windows; however, he did not see anything and returned to bed.
Koch said it is “possible” that he did chamber a live round in his handgun, and he is not sure where he left his handgun before going back to bed.
He said that he was sorry he did not tell troopers this information before, but he was embarrassed.
On June 18, Monroe County Deputy Coroner Michael Sak pronounced the child dead at 12:15 p.m.
The manner of death was ruled as accidental. The cause of death was ruled a gunshot wound to the head.
Koch is lodged in Monroe County Correctional Facility under $200,000 bail.
He is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 20 before District Judge Colleen Mancuso of Brodheadsville.