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Toddler accidentally shoots pregnant mother in Indiana parking lot, father charged

A woman was accidentally shot by one of her young children in a northwest Indiana store parking lot, police said.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - A woman was accidentally shot by her 3-year-old daughter in a northwest Indiana store parking lot, police said.

According to The Times, Merrillville police responded to the scene at the Plato's Closet on E. 81st Avenue just before 4 p.m. Tuesday. Police believe the victim's boyfriend was inside the store trying on clothes when the toddler picked up a gun he had left in the car and fired.

NBC Chicago reports the woman, who is a few weeks pregnant, was shot in the stomach. A supervisor at the store, Hadassah Zirkle, said after someone told her what happened, she went to the parking lot and saw "blood falling everywhere." She took the children into the store so they wouldn't have to see their mother's injuries.

"She had no idea what she had done and she was very scared," Merrillville Police Det. Sgt. James Bogner said.

The boyfriend tried to stop the mother's bleeding until paramedics arrived.

"He said, 'Did you kill yourself? Why did you do this to me?'” Rebecca Todd, a store employee, told NBC Chicago.

“He rushed over, he was balling his eyes out," Paloma Prieto, who also works at Plato's Closet, said. "He grabbed his jacket and wrapped it around her waist."

The boyfriend was taken into custody on child endangerment charges. The girl and a 1-year-old boy who was also in the car were taken in by Child Protective Services.

The mother, identified as 21-year-old Shaneque Thomas, was taken to the hospital for treatment. The nature and extent of her injuries is not known.

"A loaded weapon with children in the back seat: real careless act," said Merrilville police Chief Joe Petruch. "I hope she survives the gunshot wound."