A grand jury has indicted a Grayslake man who prosecutors said accidentally shot a two-year-old girl, seriously injuring her, while he was babysitting children in Vernon Hills.
Joseph Hatchett, 19, of Grayslake, was initially charged earlier this month with one count of reckless conduct causing great bodily harm, a Class 4 felony, and child endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor.
A grand jury indicted him Wednesday on an additional charge of aggravated unlawful possession of a weapon.
The charges stem from an incident that the Vernon Hills Police Department and Countryside Fire Protection District responded to around 2:14 p.m. on June 2 in the 300 block of Plumwood Lane in Vernon Hills.
Vernon Hills Deputy Police Chief Shannon Holubetz said a 911 caller reported a child had been injured by fireworks.
Officers arrived on the scene and determined the two-year-old girl, who was brought outside the residence, had actually been shot.
The two-year-old girl was shot in the arm, causing permanent disfigurement, Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Francis DeRosa said.
The child was rushed to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville by ambulance.
The girl was later flown to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for specialized care.
Holubetz said the victim’s injuries were serious but not considered life-threatening.
DeRosa said Hatchett went back inside the residence after officers arrived and did not exit the home for 10-15 minutes after officers initially asked him to come outside.
The two-year-old girl, as well as her three-year-old and six-year-old brothers, were being cared for by their 17-year-old aunt and her 19-year-old boyfriend.
The children were in a bedroom playing on the floor when the two-year-old started walking to the door when a “bang” was heard and the child was shot, DeRosa said.
A search warrant was obtained and officers recovered a loaded 9mm handgun from the bedroom’s closet. A bullet was found lodged in a dresser.
DeRosa said a witness told officers that Hatchett is known to carry a gun.
The witness showed officers a recent video of Hatchett with the same gun in the same bedroom.
One of the children said that Hatchett had been in possession of the gun when he accidentally shot the victim, DeRosa said.
Hatchett does not have a concealed carry license or a Firearm Owners Identification card.
Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak ordered Hatchett held on a $250,000 bond.
The child’s siblings were removed from the home pending further investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services, Holubetz said following the incident.
In an update Wednesday, Holubetz said the child is no longer hospitalized but her injuries were extensive.
“She has undergone several surgeries since the shooting, and additional procedures are expected in the future,” Holubetz said.
The shooting occurred on National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
“This is a jarring reminder of why all gun owners must store their firearms in a safe and responsible manner,” Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis said.
“I encourage all members of the community to discuss gun safety with their children and all gun owners to re-commit themselves to the highest standards of safety,” Kreis said.
Hatchett is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment hearing on July 5.