A 3-year-old in Indiana accidentally shot her pregnant mother, leaving the woman in a critical but stable condition, local media reported.
The child shot Shaneque Thomas, 21, who police said is six weeks pregnant, in the shoulder Tuesday outside a Plato’s Closet thrift store in Merrillville.
Police said Menzo Brazier, the victim’s boyfriend and father of her two kids, ages 3 and 1, left his legal 9-millimeter handgun loaded in between the console and his front passenger seat before going in the store, according to Chicago station WFLD.
After that, the couple’s 3-year-old daughter somehow grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger. The bullet went through the back of the seat and struck Thomas in her right shoulder.
“[The girl] had no idea what she had done and she was very scared,” Detective Sgt. James Bogner told NBC Chicago.
Police said she got out of the driver seat and collapsed after opening the door to the back seat where her children were.
Plato’s Closet employee Hadassah Zirkle told WLS that people immediately noticed something terrible had happened.
“We just heard screaming. We ran outside with a bunch of other people. Someone said someone was hurt and bleeding,” she said.
Brazier reportedly ran out of the store and tried to stop the bleeding until paramedics arrived.
“He said, ‘Did you kill yourself? Why did you do this to me?’” store employee Rebecca Todd told WMAQ TV.
“He rushed over, he was bawling his eyes out,” her co-worker Paloma Prieto said.
Employees brought the children into the store and comforted them, while first responders arrived on the scene and transported Thomas to a local hospital for treatment. She was transported to Loyola Hospital in critical but stable condition, WLS reported.
Brazier was charged with child endangerment. The two children are now with Child Protective Services.
“A loaded weapon with children in the back seat: real careless act,” Merrillville police Chief Joe Petruch told WMAQ. “I hope she survives the gunshot wound.”
This incident is similar to a 2016 case that happened in Florida. The 4-year-old son of a gun-rights advocate accidentally shot her as she was driving.