Mother charged after girl shot by brother playing with gun in Newark

NEWARK (WABC) -- The boyfriend of the mother of a girl who was accidentally shot on Saturday has been charged.

Officials arrested Haleem Graham, 32, of Newark, in connection to a child endangerment case involving the shooting of a 9-year-old child.

The victim's mother, Catrease Thomas, 33, was charged the day of the shooting with endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a weapon after her 12-year-old son accidentally shot his 9-year-old sister with an unsecured gun.

Around noon Saturday, Newark police responded Renner Avenue where they found a 9-year-old girl with a gunshot wound to the chest. Police say the mother was in the shower when her 12-year-old son found an unsecured 9MM handgun and accidentally shot his 9-year-old sister. The mother left the building and got into a police car with two young boys.

"The mom is a real nice lady - she stays in the house and takes care of the kids," says neighbor Leon Seaborn, "she's not in the streets."

Minister Thomas Ellis lives in the neighborhood, but also runs an anti-gun coalition in the area called "Enough is Enough".

"Another child it's sad that people will allow people to keep guns in their house unprotected," says Minister Ellis.

A source on the scene tells Eyewitness News that the gun belongs to the mother's boyfriend, who wasn't home at the time. It is unclear if the gun was legally owned or not, but neighbors say the mother is usually very watchful over her children.

"She was a good person, and I hate to see that happened to her and the kids," says Seaborn.

"I would hope that someone would own up and take responsibility for the gun," Minister Ellis adds.

On Saturday night, Newark's Police Director released a statement saying, "We are all outraged that this senseless shooting has occurred, an incident that could have easily been avoided, but for the carelessness of two adults."

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 877 NWK-TIPS (877 695-8477) or NWK-GUNS (877 695-4867).

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