INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana man whose neighbors saw his 4-year-old child point a loaded handgun at them outside their apartment appeared in court Thursday, where a judge entered not-guilty pleas to three felony charges.
The Marion County Superior Court judge also set bond for the 45-year-old man, whom The Associated Press is not naming to protect the privacy of the child, at $60,000. The man was charged Tuesday with two counts of neglect of a dependent and one count of dangerous control of a firearm.
Prosecutors and an attorney for the man declined comment after the hearing. A jury trial in the case is scheduled for March.
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 boy was in his father’s care while the mother was sick and living elsewhere, according to an affidavit filed with the charges.
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,” according to the affidavit.
A 4-year-old boy opened the door when officers arrived. They called for someone inside, got no response, then entered and saw the man, who was wearing only underwear, at the end of a hallway, authorities said.
The man said he was sick and did not know that his son had left the apartment. He also said there was no firearm in the apartment and that his son did not have a toy gun, authorities said.
A neighbor then played security camera footage for the officers that showed the boy walking around the apartment building’s upstairs landing with the gun. When the officers told the man about the video, he said a relative may have left a weapon in the apartment.
Authorities found the handgun after an officer “asked the child where he put his toy” and the boy motioned toward a roll-top desk in the living room. An officer recovered the handgun from the desk. The Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun had 15 live rounds in its magazine, though no rounds were in the chamber, the documents 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.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Wednesday that “the alleged conduct is an egregious example of the importance of practicing safe storage” of firearms.
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers