Father kills Henderson teen because he’d ‘rather have a dead son than a gay son’
Giovanni Melton
Giovanni Melton

A father has shot and killed his 14-year-old son, with people close to the victim saying his death occurred because he was gay.

Giovanni Melton of Henderson died on Nov. 2 after being shot in the apartment where he had been staying without any family since March. He succumbed to his injuries at St. Rose Dominican Hospital’s Siena Campus. Giovanni was a student at Coronado High School.

Henderson police have charged his father, Wendell Melton, 53, with murder, child abuse and firearms possession. 

Sonja Jones, who identified herself as Giovanni’s former foster mother, told KSNV that a family member told her Wendell killed Giovanni because of his sexuality.

“He hated the fact that his son was gay,” she said. “I’m sure that inside of his mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.”

“Giovanni was abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many, many years.”

Jones also said Wendell threatened his son before. “I’m hearing his dad had caught him with his boyfriend before and pulled out a gun on him.”

But for his part, Wendell has told police he “accidentally” shot his son after they got into an argument over Giovanni skipping school. Wendell was the one to call police.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal obtained the arrest report for this case. The newspaper reported the following: 

[Giovanni’s] father moved him into a Henderson apartment, a decision he later told police was necessary because his son didn’t get along with his new wife.

A criminal records check revealed Melton was prohibited to possess firearms because of a prior domestic battery conviction.

The Review-Journal went on to explain Wendell’s version of events:

Wendell told police that he drew his handgun after an argument about his son’s truancy escalated and Giovanni pushed him to the ground.

Wendell Melton told police that as he got up, the gun, which was pointed at his son, accidentally went off. The bullet landed in Giovanni’s chest.

Based on evidence at the scene, detectives suspect that Wendell Melton did not fear for his life when he drew the gun.

ABC 13 included more of the report:

Melton told police that he had a gun with him because he was afraid of some of the people that Giovanni hangs out with.

Melton says that after he got up off the ground, he warned Giovanni to stay back. However, Giovanni moved to attack him.

Police say that Melton’s version of what happened changed several times and he was untruthful about where the gun came from until evidence contradicted his statements.

According to court records obtained by LasVegasNow.com, the family had a “complicated past”:

There was a lingering custody battle for  Giovanni and his sibling, that included being abandoned by their mother, along with Wendell illegally having guns and threatening his family with them.

There was even an allegation against Wendell that he beat Giovanni.

Furthermore, according to Mic, Henderson Police Department Public Information Officer Scott Williams confirmed the teenager “was living alone in the apartment where he was fatally shot, but said he couldn’t confirm that the teen’s death was related to his sexual orientation.”

Those who knew him have described Giovanni as energetic and friendly.

“It’s just sad. He was young and he had a lot to live for,” classmate Bailey Schultz told KSNV.

A memorial was held for Giovanni on Nov. 5.

“He was my brother, my everything,” said Alexander Melton, according to the Review-Journal. “He was never afraid to try new things and he was such a smart, young man who everyone loved.”