INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana man whose neighbors saw his 4-year-old child point a loaded handgun at them outside their home appeared in court Thursday, where a judge pleaded guilty to three felonies.
The Marion County Superior Court judge also set bail for the 45-year-old man, whom The Associated Press did not name to protect the child’s privacy, at $60,000. The man was charged Tuesday with two counts of neglecting a loved one and dangerously checking a firearm.
Prosecutors and an attorney for the man declined to comment after the hearing. A jury trial in the case is scheduled for March.
Court documents say the man, a convicted felon released on bail in a pending domestic battery case, “had an unsecured and loaded firearm at his home.” The boy was in the care of his father while the mother was ill and living elsewhere, according to an affidavit filed with the indictment.
Officers were called to an apartment complex in Beech Grove, an Indianapolis suburb, Saturday night about a baby boy, who was wearing only a diaper and “had a chrome-plated pistol and was pointing it at people,” according to the affidavit.
A 4-year-old boy answered the door when officers arrived. They called for someone inside, got no answer, then entered and saw the man, wearing only his underwear, down a hallway, authorities said.
The man said he was ill and did not know that his son had left the apartment. He also said there was no firearm in the home and that his son did not have a toy gun, authorities said.
A neighbor then played CCTV footage to officers of the boy with the gun walking around the top of the stairs in the apartment building. When officers told the man about the video, he said a relative may have left a gun in the home.
Authorities found the gun after an officer “asked the child where he put his toys” and the boy pointed to a rolling table in the living room. An officer recovered the pistol from the desk. The Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol had 15 live rounds in its magazine, although there were no rounds in the chamber, the documents say.
The man then told officers the gun belonged to a cousin “who sometimes left the gun at the home when he felt mentally unstable,” the affidavit said.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Wednesday that “the alleged conduct is an egregious example of the importance of practicing firearm safekeeping.”
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that brings journalists into local newsrooms to cover undercover topics. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers