INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The father of a diaper-clad 4-year-old boy who was seen pointing a loaded handgun at people outside their Indiana home last weekend is now facing a felony charge.
The Marion County Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that the 45-year-old man was charged Tuesday with two counts of neglect of a loved one and one count of dangerous control of a firearm. He is scheduled to appear in court for a first hearing on Thursday.
Online court records do not list an attorney who could speak on behalf of the man, whom The Associated Press does not name to protect the child’s privacy. Michael Leffler, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, confirmed on Wednesday that the defendant is the boy’s father.
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 documents add that he “poses a direct threat to the well-being of his child, his neighbors and their children through his careless and careless actions.”
According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the indictment, the boy was in the care of his father while the mother was ill and living elsewhere. Officers were called to a housing complex in Beech Grove, an Indianapolis suburb, on Saturday night because a young boy, wearing only a diaper, “had a chrome-plated handgun and was pointing it at people.”
Officers went to an apartment and a 4-year-old boy answered the door for officers with no adult in sight. After an officer repeatedly called someone inside, officers entered and saw the man, wearing only his underwear, down a hallway who appeared to have just been woken up by officers, authorities said.
The man told officers he was ill and didn’t know his son had left the home. He also said there was no firearm in the home and his son did not have a toy gun. The man assisted officers in a “rash search” of the home, and no firearm was found, authorities said.
As officers exited the apartment, a neighbor played them security camera video showing the boy walking around the top landing of the apartment building “with a silver-and-black pistol,” the affidavit said.
When officers told the man about the video, he told them that while he didn’t have a gun, “a relative may have left one at the home.” Authorities didn’t find the gun until an officer “asked the child where he put his toy while he was showing his hand in the shape of a gun,” the affidavit said.
The child then walked over to a rolling table in the living room and pointed to it. According to the affidavit, the officer opened the desk’s roller shutter, “revealing a silver-and-black handgun lying on the desk,” which appeared to be the one officers saw in the video.
The gun was determined to be a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol, and although there were no cartridges chambered in the gun, it contained “15 live rounds in the magazine,” the affidavit said Explanation.
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. The man said he didn’t know his cousin’s address or phone number.
Marion County Attorney Ryan Mears said in a statement Wednesday that “the alleged conduct is an egregious example of the importance of keeping guns safe.”
“Too many children in our community are at risk from irresponsible gun ownership,” he added.