A 3-year-old girl shot her pregnant mother Tuesday in an Indiana parking lot after finding her father's loaded gun in the car, police said.
Shaneque Thomas, 21, was sitting in the front seat of the car outside Plato's Closet at a Merrillville strip mall parking lot when the toddler fired the gun, striking the mother between the chest and shoulder.
The girl's 1-year-old brother was also in the car.
"She had no idea what she had done and she was very scared," Detective Sgt. James Bogner said.
Thomas' boyfriend, identified by police as Menzo Brazien, was inside the thrift store trying on clothes at the time of the shooting. He is being held on a preliminary charge of child endangerment, the Lake County Sheriff's Department said.
A Plato's Closet employee told NBC 5 a witness ran inside the store and told her there was a woman bleeding outside.
"There was blood flowing all from her stomach; just coming out like water, like a faucet, and I screamed 'Someone call 911,'" Hadassah Zirkle said.
Another employee, Paloma Prieto, told NBC 5 Brazien rushed outside and was "balling his eyes out" as he wrapped his jacket around Thomas' waist to try and stop the bleeding until paramedics arrived.
Thomas was taken to a local hospital and then transferred to Loyola University Medical Center where she was listed in critical but stable condition.
Employees took the children inside the store to shield them from the chaos. Zirkle said the little girl had blood on her jacket.
"[She was] just looking at me, caressing my neck. Just holding on to me. I was telling her it was OK," Zirkle added.
Merrillville police say the couple from Michigan City were in Merrillville to visita local Planned Parenthood. The mother is about six weeks pregnant, police said.
The children have been placed in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Merrillville Police Chief Joe Petruch called the shooting a "real careless act."