MILWAUKEE — A 29-year-old Milwaukee man was charged with neglecting a child after prosecutors say his two-year-old son accidentally shot himself under his care.
Tommy Smith III was charged with neglecting a child - consequence is great bodily harm in Milwaukee County Court Wednesday. If convicted, Smith could face up to 12-and-a-half years behind bars.
According to a criminal complaint, Milwaukee police officers were called to Saint Joseph’s Hospital on Sept. 19 for a report of a child suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.
Officers learned that the injured child was brought there by his father, Smith.
In an interview with police, Smith said he was picking up his girlfriend with his son in the back seat without a car seat, according to the complaint.
When Smith parked the car to wait for his girlfriend, he heard a gun go off. He turned his head and saw that his son had been hit by a bullet in the head, the complaint states.
Smith claimed to police that he kept a gun in the cargo compartment, and that the child must have found it and fired it, according to prosecutors.
Smith's girlfriend, identified as Marguerita Yancy, then told officers that following the shooting, Smith told her to get rid of the handgun. She eventually threw the gun into a garbage can at a house on North 37th Street. Officers later recovered the same gun, according to the complaint.
During another interview, Yancy told prosecutors Smith often drives around with a gun in his lap, prosecutors said.
The complaint states Smith admitted to officers that he stole the gun involved in his son's shooting from the boyfriend of the child's mother. Smith denied he had the gun in his lap on the day his son was shot, saying the gun was likely between the front driver's seat and the center console.
The child remains in critical condition at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The complaint states the gunshot went into the back side of the child's head and out of his forehead.
"At this time, it is not known whether [the child] will survive," according to the complaint.