Watch CBS News

Parents charged after 16-month-old boy was shot, killed by 5-year-old brother in Indiana

Police arrested and charged parents months after a 5-year-old boy shot and killed his toddler brother, officials in Indiana said Tuesday. 

Deonta Jermaine Johnson, 27, and Shatia Tiara Welch, 24, of Lafayette were arrested on a slew of neglect and drug charges. 

Johnson, who is the father of the toddler, not the older child, was home at the time of the deadly March 28 shooting. He was asleep on the couch when the 5-year-old boy got a hold of a handgun and fatally shot 16-month-old Isiah Johnson in the head, prosecutors said in court documents. Johnson repeatedly denied having a gun in the apartment before eventually saying Welch owned a handgun that was kept in the home.

Welch was not home at the time of the shooting, according to court documents. When she arrived, she told officers she had a firearm that she kept in a lockbox under her bed. 

"Welch further advised she has two sets of keys for her gun safe, one was on her person and one she claimed she lost a few days ago," officers said she told them, according to an affidavit. 

The mom said her 5-year-old son would not know what the keys were for and that while he knew what guns were from television, he did not know where the gun was stored and was not allowed to play with or build toy guns, officials said. She said the boy played under her bed sometimes.

During the investigation, officers reviewed surveillance footage, which showed Johnson leaving the apartment and walking to a parked car about two minutes before police arrived in response to the 911 call. The video shows him putting an item inside the car. Officers later found about 400 grams of marijuana in the car. Johnson also faces a charge of obstruction of justice for his alleged actions. 

The toddler had marijuana in his blood, according to toxicology results, while his brother tested positive for cocaine, prosecutors said.

Officers searching the apartment found around 93 fentanyl pills, located within the reach of the 5-year-old boy, officials said. The officers also found a metal grinder with marijuana residue in the dining room.

"When asked about Johnson's involvement in drug activity, Welch said she stays out of Johnson's business," according to an affidavit. 

So far this year there have been at least 221 unintentional shootings by children in the U.S., resulting in 78 deaths and 151 injuries, according to data analyzed by advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. Last year, there were at least 353 unintentional shootings by children nationwide, resulting in 156 deaths and 212 injuries, the group said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.