Hadassah Zirkle said she was working at a Plato's Closet in Merrillville, Indiana, on Tuesday afternoon when she heard a loud noise.
"We just heard screaming," she told ABC7. "We ran outside with a bunch of other people. Someone said someone was hurt and bleeding."
Employees of the clothing store found 21-year-old Shaneque Thomas in a car parked outside — with a gunshot wound to her shoulder, NBC Chicago reported. Police say Thomas, who is 6 weeks pregnant, was shot by her 3-year-old daughter, who found a loaded 9 mm handgun in the car's backseat and accidentally fired bullets through the front seat.
That gun belonged to Menzo Brazier, the 21-year-old father of the toddler and her 1-year-old sibling, who was also in the car, police allege. Brazier allegedly left his loaded weapon on the car's center console and then went to go try on some clothes at Plato's Closet, according to ABC7. Police say the gun also had an extended magazine.
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Zirkle told NBC Chicago that she urged someone to call 911 after witnessing the terrifying scene.
“There was blood flowing all from her stomach," she said. "Just coming out like water, like a faucet and I screamed someone call 911.”
And Rebecca Todd, another employee, said they tried to keep the young children from seeing their injured mother.
"The first thought was to get the kids out of there," she told ABC7. "We grabbed them. We brought them inside, and we just tried comforting them as best we could."
According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, police received a call about the shooting at 3:52 p.m. and rushed to the location. First responders brought Thomas to Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus in stable but critical position.
Thomas came to Merrillville from Michigan City, police told The Times, so she could go to the Planned Parenthood in town for her recent pregnancy.
Brazier now faces a charge of child endangerment. Paloma Prieto, a co-worker of Zirkle and Todd, told NBC Chicago about the moment when Brazier learned of the shooting and ran to check on Thomas.
“He rushed over, he was bawling his eyes out," she said. "He grabbed his jacket and wrapped it around her waist."
And Zirkle said she just tried to keep the bloodied 3-year-old girl calm.
“The poor little girl had blood on her jacket," she told NBC Chicago. "Just looking at me, caressing my neck just holding on to me.
"I was telling her it was OK."
The children are now with the Indiana Department of Child Services.