MERRILLVILLE, IN (RNN) – A father was charged with child endangerment after police said he left his handgun in the car, where his 3-year-old daughter got hold of it and accidentally shot her mother.
The girl grabbed her father’s gun Tuesday while in a vehicle outside of Plato’s Closet with her mother, 21-year-old Shaneque Thomas, and her 1-year-old brother, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.
Police said 21-year-old Menzo Brazier, Thomas’ boyfriend and the children’s father, left the 9 mm handgun in the center console while he went inside to shop, WLS reports.
The gun went off when the girl grabbed it, according to police.
The bullet traveled through the seat and struck Thomas, who is six weeks pregnant, through her back and in her right shoulder.
Hadassah Zirkle, supervisor at Plato’s Closet, said several people ran outside, where someone told her someone was hurt and bleeding.
“There was blood flowing all from her stomach, just coming out like water, like a faucet, and I screamed, ‘Someone call 911,’” Zirkle told WMAQ.
Store employees took the children inside, while Brazier tried to stop Thomas’ bleeding until paramedics arrived.
“He rushed over. He was bawling his eyes out. He grabbed his jacket and wrapped it around her waist,” said Paloma Prieto, an employee at Plato’s Closet.
WLS reported Thomas was taken to a hospital for treatment then transported to Loyola Hospital in critical but stable condition.
Police said the shooting remains under investigation but appeared to be accidental.
“She had no idea what she had done, and she was very scared,” said Detective Sgt. James Bogner of the 3-year-old girl.
Brazier is being held on child endangerment charges.
The children have been placed in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
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