The 21-year-old father of the 3-year-old girl who accidentally shot her pregnant mother faces felony charges for allegedly leaving his loaded gun in the car with his two young children when he went inside a clothing store.
Menzo Brazier of Michigan City, Indiana, is charged with two counts of criminal recklessness and two counts of neglect of a dependent in connection with the incident Tuesday afternoon, according to a release by the Merrillville, Indiana, police.
Shanique Thomas, the girlfriend of Brazier and mother of their two children, the 3-year-old girl and a boy under 1 year old, was sitting in the car's driver's seat in a store parking lot when she was shot from the back by her young daughter. Thomas, who is seven weeks pregnant, suffered nerve damage from the gunshot wound to her right back shoulder and has undergone surgery.
"Thomas stated that while she was sitting in the driver's seat she suddenly heard a loud pop like a balloon," the police statement said. Then "she realized [a] large amount of blood was coming out of her."
The police investigation found that "one shot was fired through the back of the driver seat which traveled through Thomas and then through the front windshield," the police statement said.
The family had just come from a visit to a health clinic because of Thomas' pregnancy, Brazier told police, according to a court record.
"He said that after their appointment there he wanted to buy a pair of pants" before returning home, the court record said. "He didn't want to take his handgun inside of the store with him while he tried on the clothing" so he placed it between the passenger seat where he was sitting and the center compartment.
Thomas stayed in the car behind in the vehicle because she was "feeling ill," the police statement said, adding that detectives learned she "was suffering from a severe headache, hungry, [and] low iron."
She told police she didn't know Brazier brought a gun with him when they left home.
The Glock 9mm handgun had 15 live rounds in it, Brazier told police, according to the court document. He also told police that his daughter knew not to touch his gun or knives, and he said that as he did not keep a live round in the chamber of his handgun, his daughter must have loaded it.
When officers arrived on the scene, Brazier was "holding a blood-soaked towel against Shanique's chest," the court document said. The bullet had entered the upper-right side of her back and exited near her right collarbone, the police press release said.
Later that day at the Merrillville Police Department, an officer observed Brazier asking his 3-year-old daughter, "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.