Portland man arraigned for 11-year-old son’s gun access

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PORTLAND — The father of an 11-year-old boy accused of attempted armed robbery pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of endangering a child by allowing access to a firearm.

Joseph D. Charlton is the first person charged under a Portland ordinance holding parents responsible when a gun ends up in the hands of a child. It was passed in 2010 in response to gang shootings.

Charlton, 34, also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, The Oregonian reported.

He was asleep Saturday when his son and a 7-year-old friend attempted to rob a former Vancouver woman and take her car, according to papers filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Police found the boys and took a loaded .22-caliber Derringer from the 11-year-old.

Charlton obtained the handgun a few months earlier for protection because “some guys were after him,” his wife, Kathryn Charlton, told police. He stored the gun in his truck, and that’s where the boy took it from.

The gun recovered by police was cocked and loaded, the affidavit said. Police also observed fresh powder on it, suggesting it had recently been fired, the affidavit said.

The 11-year-old’s friend told police the boy had fired it four times into the air behind his house. His 4-year-old sister was present at the time.

The 11-year-old, the 4-year-old and a 7-year-old brother remain in foster care in the temporary custody of the state Department of Human Services.

The attempted carjacking took place in a church parking lot near the family’s home. Amy Garrett, 22, told officers that as the boys approached, the younger boy told the older boy to “show her your piece.”

When she refused to give them her vehicle, they demanded cash and her phone.

She asked the boy if his gun was real. He pulled it out and said, “You don’t question if the gun is real (expletive). That is how you get shot. I will blow your brains out if you don’t hand over your stuff,” the affidavit said.

Garrett drove off uninjured and called police.