Merrillville police: Small child gets a hold of weapon in vehicle, accidentally shoots mother in Plato's Closet parking lot

Police tape surrounds the scene where police say a mother was shot by one of her young children Tuesday afternoon in Merrillville. 

CROWN POINT — A man faces charges after his toddler daughter shot her pregnant mother with his gun Tuesday outside Plato's Closet in Merrillville, court documents state.

Menzo M. Brazier, 21, of Michigan City, was charged Thursday in Lake Criminal Court with two counts each of criminal recklessness and neglect of a dependent.

Police were dispatched about 3:38 p.m. Tuesday to Plato's Closet, 359 E. 81st Ave., for reports of a gunshot wound.

Officers found Brazier at the store holding a blood-soaked towel against his pregnant girlfriend's chest, according to court records. The woman had a gunshot wound that entered the upper right side of her back and exited near her collar bone.

The woman was transported to Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus and then Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois, where she was treated in their intensive care unit, records state.

She told police in a statement her 3-year-old daughter accidentally shot her with her boyfriend's gun.

Brazier told police his girlfriend was sitting in their vehicle with their children, ages 3 and 1, while he was shopping for pants inside Plato's Closet. He said he did not want to bring his loaded 9 mm handgun into the store, so he put it between the front passenger seat and center compartment.

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He said he was inside shopping when someone entered the store and said a woman outside was bleeding. He went outside and found his wounded girlfriend leaning against the side of their car.

Brazier allegedly admitted the gun was loaded, but claimed a bullet was not chambered. He said he told his daughter not to touch his guns or knives, records state.

Brazier was wanted by police on a warrant for failure to appear in Porter County Superior Court on traffic violations, records state.

The defendant was arrested on the warrant. He remains held without bond at Lake County Jail, records state.

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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.