Jaiden Pratt, 4, was napping on the couch with his father, Marquiez Pratt, Sunday morning when the child awoke and grabbed a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun left nearby. The gun went off, striking the boy in the stomach, Houston police Sgt. Brian Harris said.
Police and paramedics responded when neighbors heard the shot and reported it. When they arrived, they found Pratt in a T-shirt and boxers, on the lawn of his apartment complex, holding the bleeding child.
Attempts to revive the boy were unsuccessful and he was declared dead at the scene, the Houston Chronicle said.
Inside the apartment, police found marijuana, crack cocaine and scales, and a check of the gun's serial number found it had been reported stolen in a 2011 burglary. It was unknown how Pratt acquired the weapon.
"This is not a case of a responsible homeowner having a weapon for protection," Harris said.
Pratt faces charges of endangering a child and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, Houston police spokesman John Cannon said. Pratt may also be charged with making a firearm accessible to a minor, but under Texas law such a charge cannot be filed until seven days after the child is buried.
Harris described Pratt as extremely remorseful, telling officers as he sat on the lawn -- still in his underwear and a shirt soaked in his son's blood -- he "messed up."
"He's in mourning. He's in pain and feels a lot of self guilt," Harris said. "Despite the choices he made and the lifestyle he was leading, it doesn't take away the love a father has for a son."