Little Jared: The Hamilton boy with the big smile and infectious laugh should still be alive

Jared Green Jr.’s family went all out for his third birthday.

His birthday cake was a “Toy Story″ theme, and he got a pile of presents. Photographs from that day show a very happy boy, wearing a big smile.

But Jared’s birthdays won’t be so joyous anymore.

That’s because they’ll likely take place at his gravesite, located on a hillside at Rose Hill Burial Park, a cemetery in Hamilton. Jared died after he accidentally shot himself in the head last year.

Jared’s grandparents say no family should have to go through what they have endured, losing a young child in such a tragic and senseless way.

Jared would still be alive if the gun owner, Ben Bishop, had safely stored his firearms, say Jared’s grandparents.

But he didn’t and because of that many lives will never be the same again.

“It’s hard every day to imagine he’s gone,” said his grandfather David Rodriguez. “He was such a blessing and every day was full of joy and love.”

March 30 will be the one-year anniversary of Jared’s death. The 3-year-old Hamilton boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a handgun that belonged to his mother’s boyfriend, Ben Bishop.

Bishop left the gun out on a windowsill in a bedroom he shared with Jared’s mom, Hailey Rodriguez. Bishop pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

To mark the one-year anniversary of Jared’s death, Hailey Rodriguez plans to decorate his grave with paper lanterns, according to her parents.

For Jared’s birthday last September, his family did a balloon release from his grave site.

Jared was obsessed with balloons. One of the last photographs taken of Jared on the morning of March 30 shows him in a car seat, smiling and laughing, carrying a balloon and eating Fruit Loops.

Jared died 10 days before Easter. But his mother gave him one present from his Easter basket early. It was a reusable water balloon.

As a special treat, Jared’s family taped balloons and streamers to a ceiling fan, and he was delighted and mesmerized as they spun around in a colorful blur.

Jared also really liked flags, and how they move when waved and how they ripple in the wind.

Though Jared was autistic and mostly nonverbal, he could say a few words, including a garbled version of “I love you.” His family members affectionately called him “Little Jared,” “Junior” and “Bubba.”

Little Jared loved food, especially fruit and cereal, and he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty while cooking with his family. He always wanted to be outside, playing with the garden hose or going down the slide on the swing set.

When he went to the park, he giggled when he saw squirrels chase each other up and down trees.

He was fascinated by zoo animals and fire trucks.

When it rained, Little Jared put on his rain boots and splashed around in mud puddles and held out his hands, as if to catch the raindrops.

Jared’s mother played movies in the backyard on a projector, and he adored “Toy Story” and other Disney films. Tears welled up in his eyes when Bambi’s mother dies on-screen.

“He loved being busy, staying busy, having fun, being outside,” said David Rodriguez, his grandfather. “I miss that boy so much.”

Nothing made Jared happier than being with his mother. He held her hand all the time and he also liked running his hands through her hair, said David and Michelle Rodriguez.

After he was shot, one of the last things Jared did was squeeze his mother’s hand, said Michelle Rodriguez, as she teared up, recalling that painful day.

After Jared’s death, his family says they learned that police found another loaded firearm that belonged to Bishop underneath a bedside cabinet, just feet from where Jared’s mother read to her son almost every night.

Leaving loaded firearms out when there are children in the house is beyond careless — it’s criminal and what Bishop did deserved more than just a seven-year prison sentence, said David and Michelle Rodriguez.

Hailey Rodriguez was pregnant with Bishop’s child at the time of the shooting, and she gave birth to their child in May.

Bishop will spend the next seven years in prison and he may not have a role in his child’s life.

The Rodriguez family say Jared’s death is a wound that probably will never heal.

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