CPS probes home after girl shot

Parents send 2 other daughters to their relatives

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Aug. 17, 2004, 6:34AM

The parents of a 5-year-old girl who was shot to death by her stepfather after he mistook her for a burglar placed their surviving two children with relatives while child welfare workers investigate the living conditions at their home.

There is nothing to prevent Agun Ortega Pina, 26, and Lourdes Hernandez, 29, from seeing their 1- and 2-year-old daughters, Child Protective Services officials said Monday.

"They're not forbidden from seeing their kids they could go back and get them if they wanted to," CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin said.

The parents have not returned to their modest home in the 2800 block of Kentucky since Pina mistakenly shot Alejandra Hernandez after the child apparently made a trip to the bathroom around 1 a.m. Sunday. The couple are staying with relatives.

Investigators expect the incident to be reviewed by a Harris County grand jury in the coming weeks.

The family's vehicle had been burglarized last month and a neighbor's home was broken into last week. So, when a noise roused Pina from sleep, he grabbed his .380 semi-automatic handgun from a bedroom closet, Houston Police Department homicide investigator Ramon Cervantes said.

The parents shared a bed with their three young daughters because the only other bedroom in the house is rented by another man, friends said. Police said Alejandra may have gotten up to use the bathroom and was returning to her parents' bed when she was mistaken for a burglar.

The girl was shot in the chest as she opened the bedroom door.

Neighbors saw the children's mother screaming and running to the family vehicle with the surviving toddlers, while Pina carried the limp Alejandra in his arms.

The girl died at Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital.