Boyfriend charged after toddler accidentally shoots pregnant mom in Indiana

WLS logo
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Menzo Brazier.
Menzo Brazier.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. -- The boyfriend of a woman who was accidentally shot by her 3-year-old daughter in Merrillville, Indiana, is now facing charges.

The boyfriend, identified as 21-year-old Menzo Braizer, was charged Thursday with two counts of criminal recklessness and two counts of neglect of a dependent.

MORE: 3-year-old toddler accidentally shoots pregnant mom

Brazier's girlfriend, who is seven weeks pregnant, was sitting in the driver's seat of her car in a parking lot outside a Plato's Closet in the 300-block of East Lincoln Highway when she was shot Tuesday afternoon. Brazier had gone into the secondhand store to try on clothes, police said.

He had asked her if she wanted to come inside with him, but she told police she declined because she wasn't feeling well at the time - she had a severe headache, was hungry and was low on iron. She said she was trying to relax and wasn't paying attention to Brazier as he left the vehicle.

Police said he had placed his loaded Glock 19 9mm handgun between the center armrest and the front passenger seat before heading into the store. Brazier's girlfriend said she didn't know he brought a gun with them when they left their home in Michigan City, Indiana.

She told police after hearing a loud pop, like a balloon, she realized she was bleeding. She immediately got out of the car to check on her 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son in the back of the vehicle. She said that's when she saw the gun sitting on the seat. Police said that's when she realized her toddler had found the gun and accidentally shot her.

"We just heard screaming. We ran outside with a bunch of other people. Someone said someone was hurt and bleeding," said Hadassah Zirkle, who works at Plato's Closet.

"The first thought was to get the kids out of there," said Rebecca Todd, Plato's Closet employee. "We grabbed them. We brought them inside, and we just tried comforting them as best we could."

Zirkle said after the shooting, Brazier raced outside.

"He came outside, like screaming, asking what happened, kind of, like, disbelief on his face," Zirkle said.

Brazier was held on suspicion of child endangerment. Police said he is the girl's father. Detective Sgt. James Bogner said she "had no idea what she had done and she was very scared."

Police said only one shot was fired. The bullet when through the back of the driver's seat, through the woman's right shoulder and through the windshield. She suffered nerve damage and underwent surgery. Police did not release any further information about her condition.

Investigators also said in talking with them, the woman "expressed great concern for her children's well-being."

The children were placed in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.