7-year-old boy charged in father's shooting; father charged with neglect

Charles and Ruby Yancey
7-year-old shoots father
Boy charged in shooting

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WTHR) - Prosecutors in Johnson County filed charges against a seven-year-old boy for shooting his father.

It's an unusual case and the boy isn't the only one in trouble.

Prosecutors also charged his father and stepmother with felony neglect.

In the Greenwood home on Westwood Drive, where police called conditions "deplorable," prosecutors say a seven-year-old boy fired a gun at his father when he was told he had to spend the weekend with dad.

"He went into the room, got the gun, loaded it, went back into the room, pointed it at his father and pulled the trigger," said Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper.

The shot hit his dad, Charles Yancey, in the wrist. The handgun belonged to the boy's stepmom, Ruby Yancey.

Prosecutors say along with ammunition, the Ruger SR22 was stored in a small, unlocked nightstand with easy access.

"Not under a lock, not under key, no trigger lock, nothing of the sort," Cooper said. "When a seven-year-old has access to a firearm like this, under these circumstances, you get what happened here."

Cooper says that's why Charles and Ruby Yancey now face felony neglect charges, which carry a potential sentence of six months to two years in prison, if convicted. He says this could have been simply a child's temper tantrum over not getting his way.

"Instead, it turned into a shooting because the parents of the house did not lock up their firearms," Cooper said.

"The gun should have been put up. Parents, they gotta watch stuff like that," said neighbor Kristi Wilson.

"I don't know why people don't just put the guns away. Kids should not get guns. It's crazy," added neighbor Brenda Hohman.

But prosecutors charged more than the adults. The seven-year-old faces trouble, too.

Prosecutors filed a juvenile delinquency charge that's comparable to criminal recklessness in adult court.

"That's too much. I can see the parents being charged but the child? No. That's crazy," Wilson said.

But Cooper says the case was clear-cut because the boy told officers what happened was no accident.

"In the interview that was done - it was an intentional shooting," Cooper said.

Prosecutors say the point of the juvenile charge isn't about punishment, but rather to help the boy avoid future trouble.

"That would be our ultimate goal is to do whatever we have to do to correct this problem so that it doesn't happen again and so we're not back here later on with another incident with the same kid," Cooper said.