A 17-year-old charged with a felony in the accidental shooting of his 2-month-old nephew had reloaded the gun after his brother removed the bullets, according to charges filed Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court.
James Devone Early faces a single count of reckless discharge of a firearm, a felony, five days after his nephew was shot in the neck in a north Minneapolis home. Early turned himself in to police Tuesday.
The child, Isaac Lorenzo Early Jr., was wounded Thursday night in a duplex unit in the 2400 block of Emerson Avenue N. On Wednesday, he remained in critical but stable condition at Hennepin County Medical Center with a bullet lodged in his neck.
James Early, who is being held at the Juvenile Detention Center, is being charged as an adult.
“What is a 17-year-old, or anyone, doing running around with a gun in front of a 2-month-old?” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday. “This is unnecessary, ludicrous, irresponsible and it’s got to stop.”
According to the charges:
Police were called to the residence where they encountered the father, Isaac Early Sr., holding a baby. “He’s been shot and he’s two months old!” Early Sr. cried.
The baby, who was bleeding below his right ear, was crying and moving. Doctors at HCMC determined it was too dangerous to remove the bullet. Any potential permanent injuries remain unknown, the complaint said.
The baby’s family initially told police that the child was shot by random gunfire as his father held him outside the home. But they later admitted that the uncle had shot him in what police have said was an accident.
However, according to the complaint, Isaac Early Sr. confessed that his brother had come to the house that day carrying a loaded .38-caliber handgun. Early told police that he didn’t want a gun around the baby, so he took it away and removed the bullets.
A few minutes later, he saw James Early snap the gun shut, and it went off. He then heard his son crying and knew he had been shot.
James Early ran from the house, saying, “I didn’t shoot your baby, cuz. I’m sorry, cuz.”
A post on James Early’s Facebook page read: “I’m sorry all my loved ones but accidents do happen but I’ll be a man about mine.”
In an interview with police, James Early said he pulled the trigger back because he thought “that this was the safe mode.” He said the gun accidentally went off as he was getting up to leave.
James Early said that after he fled, he got rid of the gun, a revolver with camouflage paint on the metal and black grips. Police haven’t found it.