HAINES CITY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)- A 38-year-old Haines City woman, a 20-year-old Orlando man and two juveniles were criminally charged after a 3-year-old child suffered a gunshot wound. There were also nine dogs at the location that were not being properly cared for.
Olivia Sweeney, 38, is charged with child neglect with great bodily harm and nine counts of improper confinement of an animal. Donald Walker, 20, and the two juveniles are charged with tampering with evidence and violation of probation.
Officers responded to AdventHealth Heart of Florida before 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday to find the child hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the hand. During the ensuing investigation, those present at the home, where the shooting occurred, told detectives that the shot was self-inflicted and had come from a BB gun.
From the evidence however, it was clear that the wound came from an actual firearm. Suspects told detectives that the gun had been destroyed and thrown away. A thorough search of the incident location failed to reveal the location of the firearm, but detectives did collect other evidence.
Sweeney, who has custody of the child, told detectives that she had left for work that morning and made no arrangements for supervision for the child. She also acknowledged that the two juveniles stayed at her home a violation of their probation.
Once aware that police were involved, Walker and the juveniles made efforts to clean the blood from the gunshot and conceal the severity of the injury. They also cleaned the area where the shooting occurred and disposed of the firearm.
The child was driven to the hospital by an older brother of one of the juveniles, who was also present at the time of the shooting. The child suffered a broken finger and was transported from AdventHealth Heart of Florida to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital due to the complications of surgery that would be required.
During the investigation, detectives found that the child had no proper bedding and there was almost no food in the home suitable for a child to eat.
Nine dogs were also crammed into three kennels indoors. There was no dog food anywhere in the home and the dogs were confined in such a way that it was difficult for them all to sit or lay down. Urine and feces were present in the kennels and all throughout the house. Polk County Animal Control took possession of the dogs.
The Florida Department of Children and Families is also investigating. Further charges are possible as the investigation continues.
"If you have firearms in your home, it is your legal and moral obligation to secure them, so children do not have access to them," Interim Police Chief Loyd Stewart said. "We are thankful that this child was not hurt more seriously or killed."
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