Felony Charges For Father Of Toddler Who Shot Pregnant Mom

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.

Gun Violence Prevents Florida School District From Staging Walkouts Against Gun Violence

Just as students around the country were preparing another walkout against gun violence on Friday morning, a 19-year-old man shot a 17-year-old student at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida.

Marion County, where the high school is located, canceled school for the rest of the day. Students had planned protests there, a Marion school board member confirmed to CNN, but gun violence had ironically stymied their efforts. 

The attack occurred exactly 19 years to the day after two teens shot 13 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. It also comes at a moment when student activists, most of whom weren’t yet born at the time of the Columbine tragedy, are stirring up momentum for gun policy reform.

Authorities have a suspect in custody, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office representative told HuffPost. Forest High’s school resource officer responded after hearing shots fired around 8:30 a.m. and had detained the suspect within around three minutes, Sheriff Billy Wood told reporters at a press conference.

The victim’s injuries are not life-threatening, and the shooter was not a fellow student.

The shooting has shaken the community. Jake Mailhiot, a 16-year-old Forest High student, shared an image of his heavily barricaded classroom door with News4JAX:

In other places around the country, students walked out of class at 10 a.m. local time.

A Connecticut teen organized the recent demonstrations, aiming to keep the American public’s focus on gun violence more than two months after a shooter left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It’s the third major student-led protest since the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas.

Ocala is located around four hours north of Parkland by car in a state with some of the nation’s most lax gun laws. 

Although organizers of Friday’s walkout expect students at around 2,500 schools nationwide to participate, overall turnout is expected to be smaller than a similar event staged March 14, on the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting. At some schools, students are encouraged to take other action, too, by registering (or pre-registering) to vote and contacting their representatives.

Marina Fang contributed reporting.

These Are The Students Walking Out Of School To Protest Gun Violence

Students around the country walked out of class on Friday to bring attention to gun violence in the U.S. The walkout also marked the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado. 

Photos from around the country show students protesting peacefully and making their voices heard, as well as protesting silently outside the White House.

See the latest images from the second round of school walkouts below. 

Student Who Walked Out Alone In March Has Company On Columbine Anniversary

A North Carolina student who protested alone during last month’s national walkout for gun control wasn’t alone Friday when he walked out again on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Justin Blackman was the only student among 700 at Wilson Preparatory Academy who participated in the March 14 walkout to end gun violence. That demonstration took place exactly one month after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that claimed 17 lives. 

Blackman took video, which he later uploaded to Twitter, showing that he was the sole person at his school to take part in last month’s 17-minute protest. 

“Hello, Twitter, there’s going to be like six people watching this hopefully,” he said in the video. “I’m the only one from my school out here.”

On Friday, Blackman walked out again as part of a nationwide event to remember the Columbine shooting in Colorado and protest gun violence. This time, he wasn’t alone.

“Justin is very opinionated,” Blackman’s mother, Megan, told CNN during his first walkout. “He’s not a follower. Strong-minded.” 

Students Mark 19th Anniversary Of Columbine Massacre By Walking Out To Protest Gun Violence

Students across the country are walking out of their classrooms Friday to protest gun violence, coinciding with the 19th anniversary of the gun massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

According to organizers, students at about 2,500 schools are expected to hold walkouts at 10 a.m. in their respective time zones.

Friday’s events are expected to be somewhat smaller than a similar walkout on March 14. The protest is the third major student-led action since the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which catalyzed a nationwide movement of students demanding legislative action to prevent gun violence.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people attended the March For Our Lives in Washington and companion marches in cities and towns around the country, as well as in several international cities.

For the students of Columbine High School, the anniversary of the 1999 massacre has traditionally been a day of service with the high school closed for the day, so they will not be walking out, according to local news reports.

Columbine and Stoneman Douglas students led a rally to promote voter registration Thursday night in Colorado.

On Friday morning, students in some schools held walkouts before the school day began.

The series of major protests are meant to continue the momentum started by the Parkland students and keep the issue of gun violence in the headlines. So far, a handful of states have taken some legislative action in response, but there has been little movement on the national level.

Just as they did on March 14, students in the Washington area gathered in front of the White House for a walkout, before marching toward the U.S. Capitol.

At Butler High School in Matthews, North Carolina, outside of Charlotte, a student read an account of the Columbine shooting: “The students received their weapons through unlicensed dealers at a gun show. Enough is enough.”

Afterward, students were encouraged to participate in a number of activities, including making cards for victims of gun violence and pre-registering to vote.

This story will be updated throughout the day Friday.

Sara Boboltz contributed reporting.

Students From 2,600 Schools Plan Walk Outs To Protest Gun Violence

LITTLETON, Colo. (Reuters) – Colorado gun control activists rallied on Thursday near Columbine High School, calling for an end to gun violence one day before the 19th anniversary of the massacre there and a planned nationwide student walkout.

The roughly 200 demonstrators who gathered in the Denver suburb of Littleton on a windy afternoon included a survivor of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead.

The walkouts and drive to sign up voters are aimed at pressuring U.S. politicians to enact tighter restrictions on gun sales in the run-up to November’s mid-term congressional elections.

“The idea is to unite and empower survivors, to stand together,” said Emmy Adams, an 18-year-old senior at nearby Golden High School.

On April 20, 1999 two Columbine seniors killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher before committing suicide. Since then mass shootings have occurred with shocking frequency across the United States.

Among the speakers at the “Vote for Our Lives” event were Parkland High School student Carlitos Rodriguez, who told the crowd that politicians would listen if their seats were at stake.

The latest national rally comes more than a month after tens of thousands of students from some 3,000 schools participated in

Students from more than 2,600 schools and institutions are expected to walk out of class at 10 a.m. local time on Friday, organizers say.

Activists asked students to wear orange, the official color of the campaign against gun violence, and observe a 13-second silence to honor the victims killed at Columbine.

Columbine has not held classes on April 20 since the massacre, a district spokeswoman said, so there would be no walkout at the school. Students were encouraged to take part in community service.

The latest national rally comes more than a month after tens of thousands of students from some 3,000 schools participated in the #ENOUGH National School Walkout to demand that lawmakers seek tighter gun control regulations.

It also follows “March For Our Lives” rallies in cities across the United States on March 24 that were some of the biggest U.S. youth demonstrations for decades, with hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters taking to the streets to demand tighter gun laws.

Dudley Brown, president of the Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights, said the gun-control movement seeks to have the government take away rights, “precisely opposite of what the civil rights activists did in the 1960s.”

“The main objective of these students is to ban firearms completely, and confiscate the firearms of law-abiding Americans,” Brown said. “We will oppose them at every step.”

Chicago Shootings Spike Amid Weekend Violence

A bloody weekend in Chicago boosted the number of shootings and homicides that have occurred in the city so far this year.

According to The Chicago Tribune, the violence began around 3:40 a.m. Saturday, with a shooting in Woodlawn. The victim in that incident – a 40-year-old man ― was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition.

The count continued to climb throughout the weekend, totaling eight shootings by midnight Sunday.

The number of homicides was also bumped up a notch with the killing of a 21-year-old West Side man. According to police, the victim was shot in the face and fell dead in the street.

The Chicago Tribune, which tracks violent crimes, reported the weekend violence raised the number of shooting victims this year to 611, and the number of homicides to 127.

That is a powerful lot of killing and violence. However, it’s also suggestive of a continuing downward trend. This time last year the number of shootings had already peaked at 901; in 2016, it was 946, the Tribune reported.

Chicago police did not respond to a request for comment from HuffPost about the data.

Last year, the downturn in violence was credited to new strategies and technology.

In a May 2017 interview with CBS Chicago, police spokesman Eddie Johnson said the department had taken several measures to reduce crime. A network of monitored surveillance cameras were reportedly installed throughout the city and “ShotSpotter” gunshot detection technology was installed in areas prone to violence. The detection technology is capable of detecting the sound of a gunshot and identifying the area in which it originated.

“We put those new strategic support centers in both of those districts, so a lot of that technology is helping us be more proactive in the way that we deploy,” Johnson said. “So it gives those commanders real-time information so that they can change their deployments.”

Send David Lohr an email or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

If You Own Guns You Don’t Want Anymore, We Want To Talk To You

Americans own a lot of guns. With more than 300 million of them in civilian hands, according to some estimates, the U.S. is the most heavily armed society in the world.

This proliferation hasn’t happened overnight. Firearms have been an American tradition for centuries. Many families have passed down guns for generations. But Americans have also continued to buy plenty of new guns, leading to record sales in recent years.

The U.S. loves its guns. But what happens when someone owns a firearm they don’t love, and they want to get rid of it without putting it back on the market? If that describes you, we want to talk.

Here’s why: Although reselling guns can be relatively straightforward, disposing of them isn’t. Many police departments host gun buybacks or amnesty programs, allowing the public to turn in weapons, often with the promise of modest compensation.

But after people give up those firearms, it’s hard to say what will happen to them. Some law enforcement agencies destroy surrendered guns, but many instead auction them or pawn them to licensed dealers, which then resell them. Sometimes, those weapons end up being used in shootings.

For anyone uncomfortable with that possibility, the options for getting rid of guns are limited. There are ways to destroy firearms on your own, though it can be difficult, depending on the type of weapon and your familiarity with firearms. There are also more innovative alternatives, like groups that take unwanted guns and melt them down into shovels or art.

But none of these methods are particularly simple or easy. If you find yourself in this predicament and aren’t sure what to do, please fill out the form below, send me a tweet or an email ― nickw [at] huffpost.com ― or leave a comment.

Black Teen Nearly Shot After Knocking On Door Asking For Directions To School

When 14-year-old Brennan Walker missed his bus on Thursday morning and started walking to school, he thought knocking on a door to ask for directions would help. He didn’t think it would nearly get him shot.

The Rochester Hills, Michigan, teenager attempted to trace the bus route on foot after he said he woke up late and missed the bus. Brennan didn’t have a phone with him because his mother had taken it away as punishment, as moms of teens are wont to do, and he got lost along the way.

When he approached a house to ask for directions, he was met with a gun.

“I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady’s door. Then she started yelling at me and she was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High,” Brennan told Fox 2 Detroit.

“And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun. I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot.” 

The man’s shot luckily missed Brennan.

“My mom says that black boys get shot because sometimes they don’t look their age, and I don’t look my age. I’m 14, but I don’t look 14. I’m kind of happy that, like, I didn’t become a statistic,” said Brennan. 

Local police said they could not justify what happened to the teenager.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told Click on Detroit that the shooting was “completely unacceptable on every level.”

“I don’t know how you would justify it, but it certainly doesn’t pass the muster,” the sheriff said.

Brennan’s mother, Lisa Wright, wants the man who shot at her son to face charges and believes that what happened “definitely was a hate crime.” 

The house had a Ring doorbell, which according to Fox 2 Detroit recorded the incident. Investigators let Wright and her son see the video.

“One of the things that stands out, that probably angers me the most is, while I was watching the tape, you can hear the wife say, ‘Why did these people choose my house?’” Wright said.

“Who are ‘these people’? And that set me off. I didn’t want to believe it was what it appeared to look like. When I heard her say that, it was like, ‘But it is [what it looks like],’” the mother said.

Many on social media have remarked on what happened to Brennan, with some noting this is what it means to be black in America.

The man who shot at Brennan is currently in custody and expected to face charges.

Black Students Marched Against Gun Violence In Florida, But You Likely Didn’t Hear About It

Hundreds of students from a predominantly black school in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood took to the streets earlier this week to protest gun violence ― and national media barely covered it.

On Tuesday, teens from Miami Northwestern Senior High School marched from their school’s campus to a housing complex where four young people were shot on Sunday. Kimson Green, a 17-year-old sophomore at the school, and Rickey Dixon, an 18-year-old alumnus, were killed. Students chanted: “No justice. No peace. No violence in the streets,” the Miami Herald reported. 

The shootings and subsequent protest in Liberty City ― an area where gun violence has been a recurring issue ― were just hours away from Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February.

National media outlets extensively covered the shooting in Parkland ― a predominantly white, more affluent area ― and have actively followed Parkland students’ activism and their March for Our Lives movement since then. Yet only a handful of outlets covered the Liberty City protest, including The Associated Press, Teen Vogue and Blavity (not HuffPost), even as local media covered it heavily.

“It’s a racial thing,” 16-year-old student Mi-Olda Faustin told the Miami Herald at Tuesday’s protest. “If you’re white, you get more publicity about these things.”

“Like Stoneman Douglas, if they can … let their voices be heard, why can’t we do the same and let our voices be heard?” another unidentified student participating in the protest told local NPR reporter Nadege Green. “Why can’t we do the same thing? It’s because we’re black? It’s because we’re in the ghetto … because we’re poor … and they’re richer? I don’t understand.”

Amid the public attention focused on March for Our Lives’ student leaders, who are largely white, some teens of color ― both at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and beyond ― have spoken out about how they are getting less recognition.  

“We’re saying you don’t see much of us at the forefront,” 17-year-old Stoneman Douglas junior Mei-Ling Ho-Shing, who is black, told HuffPost last week. She and a group of other black students at the school held a news conference late last month to express that their voices weren’t being sufficiently heard by the media or their own peers.

Green ― who has long been covering gun violence in the area and is also an alumnus of Miami Northwestern ― tweeted that national attention to the Parkland students’ movement likely helped the Liberty City students’ march get even the level of media and political attention that it did. Local students have long been activating around the issue of gun violence, she said, but their previous marches got little to no recognition.

It’s worth noting that the student leaders of March for Our Lives have made a significant effort to make their movement inclusive and recognize other communities hurt by gun violence. As the Miami Northwestern march took place, several prominent Parkland student activists tweeted their support.

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