A 19-year-old man is facing reckless driving and child endangerment charges after his girlfriend’s 2-year-old niece was seriously injured by a loaded gun left on a bed, department officials say Vernon Hills Police Department.
Joseph Hatchett, 19, from Grayslake, was helping his 17-year-old girlfriend look after the girl and her two siblings, aged 3 and 6, when the shooting happened around 2.15pm on Friday in a house in the 300 block of Plumwood. Lane in Vernon Hills, police said.
Vernon Hills Police said officers initially responded to a report of a child being injured by fireworks, but an investigation revealed a loaded semi-automatic pistol that discharged and fired at the 2-year-old girl in her left arm. Police said it was not known how the gun was fired, but they believe the firing was unintentional.
The charges against Hatchett include a Class 4 felony and a Class A misdemeanor. Additional charges are pending.
The girl was first taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville before being airlifted to Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago for specialist care. Police said his injuries were serious but not life-threatening. She remains hospitalized, police say, and her siblings have been removed from the home with further investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services underway.