GARY, Ind. – The mother of a 2-year-old girl who was fatally shot in the head in Gary was charged on Thursday in connection with her daughter’s death, according to police.
Dashana Mattica Fowler, 22, was charged with one count of level one neglect of a dependent resulting in death and three counts of level six neglect of a dependent, according to officials.
The toddler, identified as Jayla Miller, was shot in the 1700 block of Polk Street around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Fowler’s boyfriend, 39, told investigators he left the residence to get gas and food for the family, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the Chicago Tribune. When he got back to the residence, he said he yelled for Fowler to open the door, and the couple was talking when they “heard a pop” and ran to the bedroom.
The boyfriend, who hasn’t been charged as of Thursday afternoon, told police Fowler looked “out of it” and ran out of the house yelling for someone to call 911 after seeing her child.
Police said they found the toddler with a gunshot wound to the head, a gray semiautomatic handgun on the bed and what looked like crack cocaine and “a razor blade commonly used for cutting crack cocaine” on the dresser, according to the paper.
The girl was transported to Methodist Hospital Northlake in Gary for treatment, police said in a news release. She was then airlifted in critical condition to Comer’s Children Hospital in Chicago for treatment. According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, she died around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
The six counts of neglect Fowler was charged with were for the other three children that were present at the time of the incident. The children are in protective custody.
Police said the incident could have been avoided by keeping firearms away from children.
“Firearms are not toys and should always be considered loaded and secured away from children. Firearm safety and education is paramount,” Commander Jack Hamady, Gary Investigative Division, said in a release.