(Reuters) – An Indiana couple has been charged with child neglect after cell phone video obtained by authorities recorded the pair telling a one-year-old baby to put a gun in her mouth and instructing her to make sounds like the weapon was firing, police said.
Authorities in Evansville said on Friday they found the video on the phone of Michael Barnes, 19, who was arrested Thursday after he agreed to sell a handgun to an undercover officer through a transaction made on social media, Evansville police said in a statement.
During what police called a “follow up investigation,” officers looking through Barnes’ phone discovered the video of the one-year-old baby putting a gun in her mouth. In the background, two adults, identified as Barnes and the toddler’s mother, Toni Wilson, 22, encouraged the child to play with the weapon, police said.
“Barnes can be heard telling the child to say “pow” on multiple occasions while the child plays with the gun,” police said. “The video also shows the child placing the muzzle of the gun in her mouth. At no point does Barnes try to stop the child from playing with the gun,” the statement said.
The child’s mother told police that the firearm was a pellet gun. Evansville police said the weapon was a .40 caliber handgun.
Both Barnes and Wilson face multiple charges in the incident, including child neglect and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon. Barnes also faces charges in connection with the thwarted gun sale, police said.
The 12-month-old girl and one-month-old twins in the home were placed in emergency care, police said.
Barnes and Wilson were in custody and not available for comment. It was unclear if they had obtained attorneys or how they intended to plead.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; editing by Andrew Hay)