The father of a 3-year-old girl who accidentally shot and injured her pregnant mother will be facing felony charges in connection with the incident.
Menzo Brazier of Michigan City, Indiana, was charged on Thursday with two felony counts of criminal recklessness and another felony count of neglect of a dependent.
The 21-year-old father allegedly left a loaded gun in the car with his girlfriend and two young children when he went inside a clothing store in Merrillville, Indiana, on Tuesday, according to ABC News.
Brazier placed the legal 9-millimeter handgun between the console and the front passenger seat, according to Chicago station WFLD. At some point, his three-year-old daughter grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger ― shooting her mother, Shanique Thomas, who was seven weeks pregnant with her third child.
Thomas underwent surgery at a hospital and suffered nerve damage, according to the New York Post, but survived the shooting.
Thomas told police she was unaware that Brazier had brought a gun into the car, according to the Chicago Tribune. She was sitting in the driver’s seat when she “suddenly heard a loud pop like a balloon,” according to a police statement. The 21-year-old told police she then “realized [a] large amount of blood was coming out of her.”
Investigators told ABC News the little girl fired the shot through the back of the driver seat. The bullet reportedly hit Thomas and exited the car through the front windshield.
A store employee told police that Brazier came out of the store and asked, “What’s going on?” and then grabbed his girlfriend and asked her, “Did you shoot yourself?”
He then became “very upset and very flustered,” according to witnesses.
Brazier allegedly told police the gun was loaded but that no bullets were chambered.
He also insisted he told his daughter not to touch his guns or knives, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana.
A police officer said in a court document that he observed Brazier asking his 3-year-old daughter after the incident, “What did you do? Were you playing with daddy’s gun? … You aren’t supposed to play with daddy’s gun,” according to the court document.
“I know,” the girl said.
Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch told reporters on Wednesday that the shooting “was an unfortunate, careless incident that should’ve been prevented and it should’ve never happened,” according to the Chicago Tribune.