A 21-year-old mother-of-two was accidentally shot by her daughter after the child found her father's loaded weapon in their car.
On April 17, 2018, Shaniqua Thomas was waiting in a parked vehicle while her husband went to Plato's Closet in Merrillville, Northwest Indiana, as reported by NY Post.
Her 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son were in the backseat. Unbeknownst to Thomas, her boyfriend, Menzo Brazier, left his loaded Glock 99 9mm gun in the vehicle between the passenger seats.
Before the incident, he asked Thomas if she wanted to accompany him to the store. She declined, saying she had a severe headache. Thomas then heard 'a loud pop.'
Thomas, who was six months pregnant, realized that she was bleeding, but her first thought was to make sure that her children were unharmed. At this point, she still didn't realize that it was her daughter who pulled the trigger.
According to ABC7, Thomas told investigating officers that she only realized what had happened when she saw the gun on the back seat.
The bullet went through the driver's seat, passed through Thomas' right shoulder and through the windscreen. She was rushed to the hospital, where she received emergency treatment.
Brazier, also 21, was charged with child endangerment and taken into custody. Their children have been placed in protective custody at the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Eyewitness accounts revealed that Thomas 'expressed great concern' about her children's safety before being airlifted to hospital.
Hadassah Zirkle, a Plato Closet employee, described the commotion and the chaos that ensued. She said employees and customers ran to the parking lot to investigate.
Another employee, Rebecca Todd, said their priority was to get the children to safety. The children were taken into the Plato's' Closet store, where bystanders tried to comfort them.
The investigating officer, Detective Sergeant James Bogner, said that Thomas' daughter "had no idea what she had done," and added that the 3-year-old was frightened.
Elizabeth Matthews from Fox 32 confirmed that Thomas is in "critical but stable condition."