MERRILLVILLE (Fox 32 News) - A pregnant mother of two was accidentally shot by her 3-year-old daughter Tuesday in northwest Indiana.
The tragic accident happened outside a Plato's Closet in Merrillville.
The police chief says the mother, 21-year-old Shaneque Thomas, was shot once in the upper torso. She was rushed to a local hospital and then airlifted to Loyola Medical Center.
She's in critical, but stable condition Tuesday night.
The employees inside the Plato's Closet rushed outside to help after the shooting.
Police say the Michigan City family had parked in front of Plato's Closet and the father of the two kids and the victim's boyfriend placed his legal loaded 9 millimeter handgun in between the console and his front passenger seat.
He then went inside the store
The Merrillville police chief says it appears the 3-year-old girl climbed to the front seat, grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger, striking her mother through the back of the seat through her upper right shoulder.
Police say the woman, who's 4 to 6 weeks pregnant, got out of the driver seat and opened the back door where her children were, but collapsed.
Witnesses called 911 and officers arrived to find the 3-year-old frightened and a 1-year-old boy unharmed still in a car seat.
The chief says this could have been prevented.
Charges have not been filed, but the father - 21-year-old Menzo Brazier -- is being held for child endangerment. He also had a warrant out of Porter County for traffic violations.
The kids are with child protective services.