A Peru couple has been charged in the case of the 3-year-old girl who fired a gun nearly striking a neighbor in an adjoining duplex.
According to the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office, an Indiana State Police report and the Miami County Jail records, Sharlee G. Forston, 24, 36015 Beale Court, was arrested on October 15, 2015 and Jonathan Matthew Jones, 25, also of 36015 Beale Court, who was arrested on October 22, 2015 on Miami County Superior Court II Level 6 felony warrants for neglect of a dependent and criminal recklessness.
According to investigation reports turned into the prosecutor’s office, a 911 call was received from an adjoining female neighbor on October 7, 2015, in which the woman reported she had been upstairs in her home on a stair landing when she heard a gun go off and was struck in the face and the chest with drywall.
The woman reported running from her home and calling 911.
Indiana State Police responded to the scene and reported they learned the Forston’s three-year-old daughter had fired a 9mm semi-automatic Glock handgun which had been laying fully loaded on a nightstand in an upstairs bedroom.
Forston was at home alone with her daughter and was also babysitting a seven month old child at the time of the shooting.
Police did not report any injuries to the children or the neighbor woman.
According to the ISP report, “Ms. Forston stated she was in the upstairs bathroom using the restroom and (Child) was in the upstairs landing while Ms. Forston was in the upstairs bathroom. Ms. Forston was asked if she was able to see (Child) while in the bathroom and she stated that she could see (Child) from the bathroom. Ms. Forston stated that the gun was on the nightstand of the upstairs bedroom. Ms. Forston stated that she heard a loud bang and ran out of the bathroom to check to make sure (child) was okay. Ms. Forston stated the gun was lying on the floor in front of the nightstand when she went into the bedroom. Ms. Forston stated the round casing was still in the gun when she picked it up. Ms. Forston stated she had cleared the gun to make it safe and placed it on the bed in the bedroom. Ms. Forston went outside of her residence and observed that her neighbor was outside of her residence on the telephone.”
Police reported Mr. Jones arrived at the scene and reported he lived at the Forston residence, but had not been home at the time of the shooting.
“The handgun that was fired was identified as a black and stales steel Clock Model 34 9mm” the ISP report states. “The handgun appeared to have had after-market parts put on it. Mr. Jones informed us that the handgun belonged to him. I asked Mr. Jones if he had made any after-market adjustments to the handgun and Mr. Jones states that he has made several adjustments to the handgun. Mr. Jones states that he has made several adjustments to include a new trigger mechanism, slide release, magazine release, and barrel. Mr. Jones stated that the handgun is usually located in a drawer of the nightstand next to the bed when it is loaded. When the gun is unloaded it is usually kept downstairs in the living area on a shelf. Mr. Jones stated that due to special circumstances he had left the gun on top of the nightstand fully loaded with a round in the chamber prior to leave for his VA appointment.”
The state police reported they again spoke with Ms. Forston and reported her story then changed in the matter.
“We asked Ms. Forston again if she was able to see her daughter while in the bathroom,” the report states. “Ms. Forston advised me that she was able to see (child) most of the time she was in the bathroom. Ms. Forston stated that if she could not see (child) it was only for a very short time frame. Ms. Forston was asked where she was before being in the bathroom and Ms. Forston stated she and (child) were in the upstairs bedroom folding laundry. Ms. Forston was asked if she saw the gun lying on the nightstand while in the bedroom folding laudry and she stated that she did not see the gun. Ms. Forston stated that she did not know the gun was lying on the nightstand. Ms. Forston was again asked if she could see (child) while in the bathroom and she stated she could see (child) the entire time while in the bathroom except for the time she wiped and was not watching (child) Ms. Forston had changed her story during the interview and her story is different from what she had informed (Neighbor victim).”
Indiana State Police reported they had measured the bullet holes and reported the bullet had gone straight through the wall and it appeared as though the gun had been fired while lying on the nightstand and was not picked up. The gun and empty shell casing were collected for evidence, as was the bullet, which was located in the neighboring home in a stairwell wall.
“The handgun was collected as evidence from the scene,” the ISP report states, “and will be sent for analysis due to Ms. Forston stating the gun went off by itself. The handgun was collected from the upstairs bedroom.”
Both Forston and Jones have been charged with Neglect of a dependent and Criminal Recklessness. The case was also referred to the Department of Child Services.
Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police, at the time of the shooting, reported that while there is no law requiring it to be registered in someone’s home, that gun safety should be followed at all times.
“You don’t need a permit to have a gun in a home,” Slocum said,” but people who own guns should be responsible gun owners. If people own guns for whatever reason, they need to be responsible and store them in a place where a child can’t get to it. Many experts even recommend that guns and ammunition are stored in separate locations. This was a very lucky event, in that the child wasn’t injured and the neighbor wasn’t struck and injured by the bullet. This could have had a very different, very devastating outcome.”