A 21-year-old mother was hospitalized Wednesday in a Chicago hospital after her 3-year-old daughter accidentally shot her the previous afternoon with a gun she found in her car while parked in front of a Merrillville store , the authorities said. 19659002] A 1-year-old boy was also in the car at the time of the shooting, while the father, who is also 21, was inside Plato & # 39; s Closet on E. 81st Avenue, police said. Major Jeff Rice said the father was in custody on Wednesday in a Porter County order and pending charges of the shooting.
Police plan to present their investigation into the accidental shooting to the Lake County District Attorney's office on Thursday morning. ] "It was an unfortunate and careless incident that should have been avoided and should never have happened," said Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch.
The couple, from Michigan City, was in Merrillville for a medical appointment, police said. The mother told a Merrillville detective that she was pregnant, according to Petruch.
The 3-year-old found the gun and was playing with it before shooting the mother, who was sitting in the driver's seat, she said. The bullet hit the mother from the back in the upper right chest before crossing the windshield, according to the chief. Fortunately, he did not hit anyone else, he said.
The father told the police that the gun belonged to him, and he had left it between a console and a seat in the car, according to Petruch.
"It's frustrating," Petruch said. "Now this 3-year-old girl is going to have to live with this."
The mother was taken to Methodist Hospitals Southlake before being flown to a hospital in Chicago, Rice said.
"Fortunately, she's going to recover," Petruch said.
Jazmin Trieto and Becca Todd, who were working on Plato's Closet at the time of the shooting, said they did not hear a shot.
A woman ran in the store telling them to call 911 because "there is a woman screaming and I think I see blood," Trieto said.
Trieto ran out with his co-workers and saw a woman on the ground next to a car, he said. She ran inside to take towels out of the back room to hold herself against the wound, she said.
Employees said they noticed two children in the car and took them inside the store to keep them away from what was happening.
"My first reaction is that they can not see this," said Trieto.
The father, who was trying on clothes in Plato's closet at that moment, went out to see what was happening, they said. Trieto said he asked "what's going on" and grabbed the mother and asked, "Did you shoot yourself?"
The father became "very upset and very nervous", so Trieto said he tried to calm him down and told him an ambulance was on his way.
Once the police arrived, the employees stepped back from the scene and tried to understand what had happened, they said.
"I think I personally was in shock and it did not hit me," Trieto said. "I just got into action"