A 19-year-old man is facing charges of reckless conduct and child endangerment after his girlfriend’s 2-year-old niece was seriously injured by a loaded pistol that was left on a bed, according to Vernon Hills Police Department officials.
Joseph Hatchett, 19, of Grayslake, was helping his 17-year-old girlfriend care for the girl and her two siblings, ages 3 and 6, when the shooting happened around 2:15 p.m. Friday at a home 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 injured by fireworks, but an investigation revealed a loaded, semi-automatic pistol that discharged and shot the 2-year-old in her left arm. Police said it is unknown how the gun was fired, but they believe the shooting to be unintentional.
The charges against Hatchett include a Class 4 felony and a Class A misdemeanor. Additional charges are pending.
The girl was first transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville before she was flown to the Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for specialized care. Police said her injuries are serious but not life-threatening. She remains hospitalized, according to police, and her siblings have been removed from the home with further investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services pending.