AP

Indiana man charged after son in diaper points gun at people

Jan 17, 2023, 9:52 PM | Updated: Jan 18, 2023, 12:09 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The father of diaper-clad 4-year-old boy seen last weekend pointing a loaded handgun at people outside their Indiana apartment now faces felony charges.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday that the 45-year-old man was charged Tuesday with two counts of neglect of a dependent and one count of dangerous control of a firearm. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday for an initial hearing.

Online court records do not list an attorney who could speak on behalf of the man, whom The Associated Press is not naming to protect the privacy of the child. Michael Leffler, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, confirmed Wednesday that the charged man is the boy’s father.

Court documents say the man, a convicted felon out on bail in a pending domestic battery case, “had an unsecured and loaded firearm in his residence.” The documents add that he “poses a direct threat to the welfare of his child, and his neighbors and their children, through his neglectful and careless actions.”

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the charges, the boy was in his father’s care while the mother was sick and living elsewhere. Officers were called Saturday evening to an apartment complex in the Indianapolis suburb of Beech Grove about a young boy wearing only a diaper who “had a chrome handgun and was pointing it at people.”

Officers went to an apartment and a 4-year-old boy opened the door for officers, with no adult visible. After an officer called out repeatedly to anyone inside, the officers entered and saw the man, who was wearing only underwear, at the end of a hallway, apparently having just been awakened by the officers, authorities said.

The man told officers he had been ill and did not know that his son had left the apartment. He also said there was no firearm in the apartment and his son did not have a toy gun. The man helped officers with a “cursory search” of the apartment and no firearm was found, authorities said.

As officers were leaving the apartment, a neighbor played them security camera video that showed the boy walking around the apartment building’s upstairs landing “with a silver and black handgun,” the affidavit said.

When the officers told the man about the video, he told them that while he did not have a gun, “a relative may have left one in the apartment.” Authorities did not find the gun until an officer “asked the child where he put his toy while displaying his hand in the form of a gun,” the affidavit said.

The child then walked to a roll-top desk in the living room and motioned toward it. The officer opened the desk’s roll-top “exposing a silver and black handgun lying on the desk” that appeared to be the one officers had seen in the video, according to the affidavit.

The weapon was determined to be a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun, and though no rounds were in the gun’s chamber, it contained “15 live rounds in the magazine,” the affidavit said.

The man then told officers the gun belonged to a cousin “who sometimes left the handgun at the apartment when he felt mentally unstable,” according to the affidavit. The man said he did not know his cousin’s address or phone number.

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Wednesday in a statement that “the alleged conduct is an egregious example of the importance of practicing safe storage” of guns.

“Too many children in our community are placed at risk as a result of irresponsible gun ownership,” he added.

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