Police believe father shot toddler while drunk _lowres

Lesean Rozumialski

Officers responding Tuesday night to the second shooting of a toddler in New Orleans in as many weeks were greeted by a man who claimed his gun went off after he threw it on the table of his house, according to police.

But by the time investigators had finished talking to Lesean Rozumialski and his family, they had concluded the truth was very different. They believed Rozumialski, 23, a construction worker, had shot the 3-year-old boy while drunkenly handling a gun.

Criminal District Court Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell set bail for Rozumialski — who has been booked on counts of aggravated battery, cruelty to a juvenile and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile — at $75,000 on Wednesday.

Police said the incident began about 9 p.m. Tuesday. Rozumialski had been drinking inside a residence in the 300 block of Huntlee Drive in Algiers and was intoxicated, police said in a warrant. When the 3-year-old’s mother took away the alcohol, police said, an argument began.

At that point, police said, Rozumialski left the living room and then came back. Somehow the gun went off, striking the 3-year-old once in the stomach.

Family members took the boy to the Winn-Dixie store at 3008 Holiday Drive, where a Sheriff’s Office deputy called EMS. The child was then taken to a hospital.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Henn said the toddler was Rozumialski’s child.

Orleans Public Defenders staff attorney Dylan Duffey challenged the counts lodged against Rozumialski. Duffey said the warrant made no claim that his client intended to shoot the child — a necessary element of the most serious charge, second-degree battery.

“The allegations merely establish, at most, a mistake,” Duffey said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Mr. Rozumialski is incredibly saddened and grieving.”

Duffey asked for a “very modest” bail. Assistant District Attorney Michael Henn, however, pushed for a higher amount.

“$75,000 is very reasonable, considering that he could have killed his own child,” Henn said. “There were two children present in the house when the incident occurred.”

Cantrell sided with Henn, setting a significantly higher bail for Rozumialski than the $35,000 amount set by a magistrate commissioner last week for Deonca Kennedy.

Kennedy, a 42-year-old security guard, was accused of negligent homicide after police said the gun she kept under the pillow on her bed in her New Orleans East home went off while she slept, killing her 3-year-old grandson.

Kennedy, whose daughter — the child’s mother — said she wanted her mother to be free, has since bonded out of jail. Rozumialski remained in custody Friday.