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Puerto Rico suffers island-wide power outage

WQAD News -

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(CNN) — Puerto Rico has suffered an island-wide power outage, its power authority said Wednesday — nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure and its electrical grid.

An excavator operated by a contractor apparently caused the blackout, which originated at a major transmission line running between Salinas to Guayama in the southeast, according to the authority.

Mammoth Energy, parent company of the contractor, said workers were removing a fallen tower when the machine got too close to an energized line and an electrical ground fault caused the outage.

Power was to be restored within 24 to 36 hours, the authority said.

By Wednesday afternoon, service had been restored in at least seven municipalities, five hospitals and at San Juan’s airport. About 51,000 customers, out of 1.4 million, had power.

The utility said its priority was to bring back service to medical facilities, water pumping systems and financial institutions.

Video and photos posted on social media showed rapid transit line workers helping down passengers from stalled trains and college students registering for classes during the blackout. Long lines of cars formed at gas stations and a fire broke out in an electrical generator behind a restaurant in the Condado tourist district.

“Seven months after Maria, we are back where Maria left us,” Cynthia Garcia Coll, a professor at Carlos Albizu University in San Juan, said via email.

Rafael Santiago, an engineer at a plant that makes prosthetic devices, said via Twitter that he and other workers were evacuated after being locked inside for about 20 minutes while electric generators were started.

The massive outage comes less than a week after a fallen tree knocked out service to 870,000 customers, about half the power authority’s clients, across a broad swath of the US territory.

At the time, the authority said a major transmission line was damaged while contractors were clearing vegetation.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, a frequent critic of recovery efforts since the September hurricane, tweeted Wednesday: “The entire electrical system in Puerto Rico collapses AGAIN! Back to September 20th.”

But the mayor said backup systems and mobile tower lights allowed Wednesday night’s baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins to go on as planned at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

“Nothing will stop us,” she tweeted.

Puerto Rico, home to more than 3 million US citizens, has grappled with widespread power outages for months since Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island.

Puerto Rico’s power outage is now the second-largest blackout in history

Puerto Rico has lost 3.4 billion customer-hours of electricity service due to Maria, according to an analysis released last week by the economic data analytics and policy firm Rhodium Group.

It’s the largest blackout in US history (in terms of customer hours) and the second largest in the world — after the outage caused when Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines in 2013, killing more than 6,000 people.

Puerto Rico’s power authority faced widespread criticism late last year for signing a $300 million contract to restore power with Whitefish Energy Holdings, a small Montana-based firm with only two employees at the time.

The utility canceled the contract amid public outcry, and its executive director stepped down in November.

Hundreds of crisis negotiators gather in Moline to learn new tactics

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois -- Officers from across the country came to Moline, Illinois to improve their skills as crisis negotiators.

In mid-April, 2018, the Illinois Crisis Negotiators Association (ICNA) held their yearly conference, welcoming around 250 officers to the TaxSlayer Center.

During their multi-day conference, crisis negotiators come together and learn from others about what has and has not worked for them.

"We have instructors coming in from all over the country and teaching us through past experience and situations they've been involved with," said Lt. Pedro Valladares with the Moline Police Department.

One of the workshops during the conference is about negotiating with people from different generations.

"We would negotiate differently with a senior citizen, someone from my generation, or a teenager because the mindsets are so different," said the president of the ICNA, Doug Burgess. Specifically with the younger generations coming into the mix, officers have been inspired to learn more social media skills.

"We’ve rehearsed and practiced it and trained on communicating with people through text and social networking," he said.

Officer Kathy Martin from the Springfield, Illinois Police Department said her team has been learning new ways of communication as well.

"We have to be as creative as we can," said Martin.  "Whether that’s through apps, actual texting phone to phone or calling or whatever means we can."

The 2018 conference is the highest attended in the event's history.

YOUR HEALTH: New pain management that eliminates opioids

WQAD News -

MIAMI, Florida – Jessica Garcia was born with a hole in her heart.

"When I was born they told my parents that I probably wouldn't make it a week, or a month or anything."

At age 13, Jessica needed surgery to repair the VSD, or ventricular septal defect.

"I was down for it, I was totally cool about it."

Being told your child needs open heart surgery is frightening enough.   A major concern is the pain after the procedure.

Now a new type of anesthesia is proving to be a real game changer in the operating room.

"We're actually seeing an increasing number of children, not only neonates and infants, toddlers and children, adolescents who require open heart surgery," said Nicklaus Children's Hospital pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Kristine Guleserian

She says most parents have the same concern.

"Is my child going to be okay, are they going to be in pain after surgery?"

Now doctors have a new weapon in the fight against post-surgical pain in children: it's called Exparel.

"It's a local analgesic that we can inject in and around the incision after we have completed the open heart procedure," explained Dr. Guleserian.

The medication then slowly releases over three days.   Surgeons are calling Exparel a real game changer.

"It will reduce the need for supplemental analgesics, particularly opioid analgesics," said Dr. Christopher Tirotta, the director of cardiac anesthesia at Nicklaus Hospital.

OPIATE DEPENDENCE AFTER SURGERY:   Most patients are given pain-blocking medications before, during, and after their surgical procedure.   Prescription painkillers are highly effective and allow doctors to treat and fix certain medical problems that would otherwise be far too painful to address.   These painkillers are often given intravenously before and during the procedure, and often given in pill form during recovery.   As helpful as they can be, these can also trigger the onset of addiction.   A vast majority of these medications are opiates, which are directly related to heroin, and the risk of dependence is very high.  (Source:

Jessica was the first patient at Nicklaus Children's Hospital to receive Exparel after her heart surgery.   The next day she woke up smiling.

"That day I wanted to run, walk, do everything," she remembered,    "I told my parents can I get up from the bed, I'm tired of the bed."

With the operation behind her, Jessica is back to being a busy teenager.

"It's unreal to me how easy I got out of this and how thankful I am."

Jessica says she wants to become a doctor when she grows up.

Already FDA-approved for adults.

Right now, Exparel is being used "off-label" for kids if they are over the age of 12 since it is not FDA approved for children.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Off The Kuff – Shaddy Khalafallah

WQAD News -

Moline Senior Tennis Player Shaddy Khalafallah is this weeks Off The Kuff.  Shaddy talks about his game and if he like his forehand or backhand better, who he would love to face in an ultimate match up and what famous tennis player he has hit with. Shaddy is taking his tennis talents to Marquette University next year.

Proposed Illinois ban on youth tackle football dead for now

WQAD News -

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A proposal aimed at delaying the effects of helmet-banging head trauma by banning Illinois children younger than 12 from playing tackle football lacks the votes this spring, its sponsor said Wednesday.

Rep. Carol Sente said parents and taxpayers "need more time to absorb the evidence" of a link between repeated blows to the brain and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a dementia-like, degenerative disease characterized by memory loss, violent urges, depression and other cognitive troubles.

Opposition to restrictions on America's most popular sport stifled it for now. Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat, said she will not call the legislation for a House vote before the General Assembly's scheduled May 31 adjournment. But the bill stays alive until year's end, and Sente, who is not seeking re-election in November, raised the possibility that the issue might be ripe for a vote this fall.

"This is cutting-edge research that is evolving weekly," Sente said. "As the evidence reaches parents, I believe more individuals will delay when their child starts playing tackle football. If they don't have options like flag football, I believe in time parents and youth will steer away from football entirely."

Legislation similar to Sente's is in play this spring in New York, New Jersey, and California. Last month, a Maryland House committee voted down a prohibition on tackling before age 14.

Sente's plan is named for former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who took his own life at age 50 in 2011 but preserved his brain for research that ultimately revealed the markers of CTE, which can only be confirmed after death.

The medical journal JAMA reported last summer than CTE was found in 110 of 111 brains of former NFL players whose brains were donated for research.

CTE is often associated with concussions, but experts contend the real danger is from the thousands of hits that a football player sustains throughout a season. The results are cumulative and Sente sought to protect the youngest children with underdeveloped brains and protective nerve coating.

Some fans argue that when a kid plays football is best left up to parents. They say that a delayed introduction to the gridiron means young kids won't learn necessary skills to safely succeed later, even if they play the non-contact flag-football version.

Jon Butler, executive director of the Pop Warner youth football organization, which operates in 37 states and suits up 225,000 players aged 5 to 15, said CTE research is in its infancy and "we have a lot to learn." He noted Pop Warner limits practice-time contact, bans head-to-head contact drills, and has begun a "rookie-tackle" league on a smaller field.

"We're going back to teaching blocking and tackling the way we did 40 years ago, using your shoulders and arms and not the head, which intuitively makes a lot of sense anyway," Butler said.

Illinois bicentennial voters pick Wrigley Field as state’s best building

WQAD News -

CHICAGO (Illinois News Network) — Cubs fans win again.

Illinois’ bicentennial voters have picked Wrigley Field as the state’s best building over the past 200 years.

Wrigley has been open for nearly half of the state’s life, and the Cubs were lovable losers for about that long, too.

Chris Wills of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency said people may be surprised that the Willis Tower or the John Hancock Center didn’t get second.

“Wrigley Filed was followed by the Dana Thomas House in Springfield,” Wills said. “But that’s not the only [Frank Lloyd] Wright house on the list. Voters selected the Roby House up in Springfield at No. 5.”

Wills said the rest of the top buildings were an eclectic mix.

“We had the Baha’i House of Worship up in Wilmette coming in at No. 3. That’s just a magnificent building that maybe not enough people know about, ” Wills said. “The Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower, is near the top of the list. It came in at No. 4.”

Illinois is putting together a Top 200 list of the best people, places, and things in the state’s history.

 Voters are choosing the best historic spots in the state this week.

People can vote and see the winners at

Win Tickets to Jim Gaffigan Sweepstakes – Official Rules

WQAD News -

Win Tickets to Jim Gaffigan Sweepstakes

Official Rules



WQAD News 8 (“Sponsor”) will conduct the Win Tickets to Jim Gaffigan Sweepstakes (“Sweepstakes”) in accordance with these Official Rules (“Rules”).  Participation in the Sweepstakes constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to, and acceptance of, these Rules.  The Sweepstakes is intended for participation in the United States only and is void where prohibited and outside the Sweepstakes Area set forth below.  Do not participate if you are not eligible and located in the United States at the time of entry.

  1.  Eligibility:  Entrants must be legal US residents, at least 18 years old or above, as determined by Sponsor and reside in the Davenport, IA – Moline, IL – Rock Island, IL Designated Market Area as defined by The Nielsen Company (the “Sweepstakes Area”). The Sweepstakes Area includes 17 counties in Iowa and Illinois.  In Illinois – Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside, Bureau, Henry, Rock Island, Mercer, Knox, Henderson, Warren and Knox. In Iowa – Jackson, Clinton, Scott, Muscatine, Louisa, Des Moines, and Henry. Employees of WQAD, and Outback Concerts (“Sponsor”), and Tribune Media Company, employees of other television or radio stations, and members of the immediate families of such persons are not eligible to participate and win.  The term “immediate family” includes spouses, siblings, parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren, and any other person residing at the same household whether or not related.  Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein.
  2. Sweepstakes Period: The Sweepstakes begins on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. CT and runs through Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. CT (the “Sweepstakes Period”).
  3.  Sweepstakes Entry:  Viewers can fill out the entry form found in the contest section of WQAD.COM.

Limit one entry per person.  Received entries become the property of WQAD News 8 and will not be returned.  Entrants will also be given the option to opt in to receiving additional information from WQAD and from the Sweepstakes prize providers.  Incomplete entries will be disqualified. Multiple entries by means of software-generated or other automated processes will be disregarded.  Detection of said automated entry will lead to such entries being voided in Sponsor’s sole discretion.  Only one registered account per entry.  If multiple accounts are detected for a single entrant, the accounts will be voided and the entries will be disqualified in Sponsor’s sole discretion.  In the event of a dispute as to any registration, the authorized account holder of the email address or account used to register will be deemed to be the registrant.  The “authorized account holder” is the natural person assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted address. Potential winner may be required to show proof of being the authorized account holder.  Sponsor reserves the right to use any and all information related to the Sweepstakes, including information on entrants obtained through the Sweepstakes, for marketing purposes or any other purpose, unless prohibited by law.  Sponsor reserves the right to contact entrants and all other individuals whose email address is submitted as part of this promotion.

  1. Winner Selection and Notification:  On or about May 3, 2018, Sponsor will select one winner by random drawing from among all eligible entries. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries. Sponsor will attempt to notify the Sweepstakes winner via telephone or email on May 3, 2018. Winner must have a valid email address where he or she can be notified.  If the potential winner: (a) is unreachable after seven days, (b) is not in compliance with these Rules, (c) does not meet the eligibility requirements, (d) does not provide required documentation and sign any required documents by the deadline established by Sponsor, or (e) is unavailable for prize fulfillment, Sponsor reserves the right to award the prize to another winner selected by random drawing from among remaining eligible entries. Sponsor will conduct up to two alternate drawings. If Sponsor cannot find an eligible winner for the prize, the prize will not be awarded.  All results are unofficial until winners are verified.
  2.  Prize:

There is one winner and one prize.

2 tickets to see Jim Gaffigan at the TaxSlayer in Moline, IL.  In the event that this show is cancelled and not rescheduled.  There will be no replacement of this prize.

The approximate retail value of the prize is $119.50.

  1.  Prize Acceptance/Restrictions:   Winner is subject to verification by WQAD of the winner’s name, age, address, phone number, and Social Security number (where the prize value is equal to or greater than $600.00). In order to claim his or her prize, winner must appear in person at the business offices of WQAD News 8, located at 3003 Park 16th Street, Moline, IL during regular business hours by no later than July 2, 2018. Prior to receipt of prize, winner will be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability and Publicity, and may be required to provide a completed W-9, per Section 9 below.  Prize cannot be redeemed for cash or substituted for any other items by any winner.  Prize is non-assignable and non-transferrable.  Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a comparable prize of like or greater value, including cash, for prize, for any reason.  Costs of transportation and accommodations, where applicable, and any other cost not specifically included in the prize are the sole responsibility of the winners.  Properly claimed prize will be awarded, provided a sufficient number of eligible entries are received, but in no event will Sponsor award more prizes than are provided for in these Rules. In the event that this show is cancelled and not rescheduled.  There will be no replacement of this prize.
  2. Publicity Release: By participating in the Sweepstakes, each entrant acknowledges that his/her entry in the Sweepstakes constitutes that entrant’s consent to use, publish, reproduce and for all purposes, including publicity, promotion and advertising, in any media (including without limitation, the Internet, television or offline promotions), winner’s name, likeness, photograph, voice, opinions, and/or hometown and state, and any portion thereof, each extending throughout the universe and in perpetuity without further compensation, credit or right of review or approval, except where prohibited by law.
  3. Taxes: Any valuation of the prize stated above is based on available information provided to Sponsor, and the value of prize awarded to a winner may be reported for tax purposes as required by law.  All taxes, including federal, state, and local taxes, are the sole responsibility of the winner.  Any person winning over $600.00 in total prizes will receive a 1099 form from Sponsor at the end of the calendar year and a copy of such form should be filed with the IRS.  Winner must provide Sponsor with valid identification, and a valid taxpayer identification number or Social Security number for total prizes valued at $600.00 or more, before prize will be awarded.  Sponsor will have the right, but not the obligation, to require winner to complete and submit an IRS form W-9.  Sponsor reserves the right to withhold prizes until the completed W‑9 form is received.
  4. Conditions: Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend this Sweepstakes or any portion hereof, or to disqualify any individual implicated in any of the following actions, if for any reason:  (a) infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, actions by entrants, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which, in Sponsor’s sole opinion, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, (b) the Sweepstakes or any website associated therewith (or any portion thereof) becomes corrupted or does not allow the proper processing of entries per these Rules, (c) the Sweepstakes becomes corrupted due to interruption in wireless calling devices or wireless service for any reason, or (d) the Sweepstakes is otherwise not capable of running as planned.  By entering, entrants represent that they are eligible and agree to be bound by and comply with the Rules and the decisions of any judges, which are final on all matters pertaining to the Sweepstakes.  Any entrant who attempts to tamper with this Sweepstakes in any way or use fraudulent means to participate in and/or win the Sweepstakes will be disqualified.  Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entrant at any time, for any reason, including, without limitation, language, activities or behavior deemed inappropriate. Sponsor and its advertising and promotion agencies are not responsible for cancellations, postponements, or delays.  Other than the prize received by the winner, no entrant will be entitled to receive any wages, benefits, fees or other compensation whatsoever as a result of participating in the Sweepstakes.  Sponsor will have the sole discretion to administer the Sweepstakes and interpret and apply the Rules.  This Sweepstakes is not intended for gambling.  Neither the failure of Sponsor to insist upon or enforce strict performance of any provision of these Rules nor the failure, delay or omission by Sponsor in exercising any right with respect to any term of these Rules, will be construed as a waiver or relinquishment to any extent of Sponsor’s right to assert or rely upon any such provision or right in that or any other instance. If there is any conflict between any term of these Rules and any marketing or entry materials used in connection with the Sweepstakes, the terms of these Rules will govern.
  5. Indemnification/Hold Harmless: By participating, entrants agree: (a) to release, discharge, and hold harmless Sponsor, Tribune Media Company, prize providers, and their respective affiliates, parents, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, and all of their officers, directors, employees, representatives, and agents (the “Released Parties”) from all liability, injuries, losses or damages of any kind to persons, including but not limited to invasion of privacy (under appropriation, intrusion, public disclosure of private facts, false light in the public eye or other legal theory), defamation, slander, libel, violation of right of publicity, infringement of trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights, death or property damage resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the acceptance, delivery, possession, misuse or use of a prize (including any travel or activity related thereto), or from participation in and/or entry into or creation of an entry for the Sweepstakes and/or the broadcast or exploitation or use of entry or any other Sweepstakes-related activity; and (b) that the Released Parties have neither made nor are in any manner responsible or liable for any warranty, representation or guaranty, expressed or implied, in fact or in law, relating to prize.
  6. Limitation of Liability: The Released Parties are not responsible or liable for: (a) any incorrect or inaccurate entry information or other errors in the printing, offering or administration of the Sweepstakes or in the announcement of the prize(s), (b) any error, omission, interruption, defect or delay in operation or transmission at any website, or wireless calling service, interrupted or unavailable network, server or other conditions, (c) failure of any entry to be received by Sponsor due to technical problems, telephone service problems, human error, or wireless calling service, (d) mechanical, technical, computer, hardware or software errors, malfunctions, or failures of any kind, including but not limited to failed, incomplete, garbled, or delayed transmission of entries, traffic congestion, viruses, sabotage, satellite failures, electrical outages, on telephone lines, on the Internet, at any website, or application or lost or unavailable network connections or natural disasters or acts of God or man, which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in the Sweepstakes,  (e) communication line, hardware and/or software failures, malfunction of phones (including wireless phones/handsets), phone lines, other communications malfunctions, unavailable network connections, cellular equipment towers, telephone systems or wireless service, (f) damage to any computer (software or hardware) resulting from participation in the Sweepstakes, or damage to mobile phone or other PDA device, (g) theft or destruction of, tampering with, unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries and/or entry information, (h) entries that are late, lost, stolen, damaged, illegible, and/or unintelligible (or any combination thereof), or (i) any change of email address, mailing address, telephone number and/or any other contact information provided by entrant.  Any expenses incurred by the entrant during the entry process are the sole responsibility of each entrant and the Sponsor will not issue reimbursement for any expenses.
  7. Dispute Resolution: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree that: (a) any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of or connected with the Sweepstakes, or any prizes awarded, will be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action; (b) any and all claims, judgments and awards will be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering the Sweepstakes but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (c) under no circumstances will any entrant be permitted to obtain any award for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental or consequential damages and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses. All entrants agree, by participation in the Sweepstakes, to submit to the personal jurisdiction of the courts of Illinois.  Illinois law will govern this Sweepstakes, without regard Illinois’s choice of law rules.  The courts of Illinois will be the exclusive forum for any dispute regarding any Rule or activity associated with the Sweepstakes.
  8. Official Rules: To request a copy of the Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to WQAD News 8, located at 3003 Park 16th Street, Moline, IL by 5/2/18.  Written copies of these Rules are also available during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) at WQAD’s business offices or online at
  9. Name of Winner: For the name of the prize winner, send a separate, self-addressed, stamped envelope to WQAD News 8, located at 3003 Park 16th Street, Moline, IL, or appear in person at that location between normal business hours (Monday – Friday, between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) after 4/16/18. Requests for winner’s name must be received by 7/2/18.
  10. Rights Reserved: The content, information, data, designs and code associated with the Sweepstakes and Sweepstakes website are protected by intellectual property and other laws. Any unauthorized use of copyrighted materials, trademarks, or any other intellectual property of Sponsor.


  1. Sponsor: WQAD, 3003 Park 16th Street, Moline, IL 61265.
    Outback Concerts, 209 10th Ave South | Suite 503, Nashville, TN 37203



First grade Bettendorf teacher opens salon in classroom

WQAD News -

BETTENDORF-- Students are happy to be here in Miss Hill's special classroom at Jefferson Elementary school in Bettendorf. It's not just special because of the pint sized people who fill it. It's special because it's not just a classroom. It's also a hair salon.

"Our appointment sheets call it the First Grade Salon," says Emily Hill.

Every day, students can schedule an appointment to get the latest trending style. The salon is open for two appointment slots before school, and one after lunch recess Monday through Friday by appointment only.

"Most of my clients are girls, but it is open to anybody that wants to sign up," says Hill.

But there's a catch. The styles aren't free. All clients have to pay.

"You have to pick out a book to read to Miss Hill," says first grade client Nora Dunbar.

Every style costs ten minutes of reading, reading out loud to Miss Hill, the stylist.

"My favorite part is I get to spend time with my kiddos without having to put any extra pressure on them. I don't have to do assessments on them. They don't have to solve any problems. I just get to listen to them read and hang out with them," says Hill.

The First Grade Salon has a five star review.

"They love it, yes. They always remind me if I forget to hand them reminder sheets, or they'll find me in the teacher's lounge if I don't come down the hallways quick enough," says Hill.

Miss Hill makes the love of learning the new trend.

"Once you get into first grade, you do all these kid of fun stuff, and Miss Hill is super exciting and fun," says Nora Dunbar.

Now Nora is inspired. She opened up her own salon, Cat Hair Salon, at home.

"Since my cat is a boy, I have him a tiny-itty-bitty Mohawk. All he had to do was meow," says Dunbar.

In this special place with all the latest trends, learning is always in style.

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Toddler shoots pregnant mother outside Indiana thrift store

WQAD News -

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – A 3-year-old girl found her father's gun inside a parked car and managed to pull the trigger, accidentally firing a bullet into her pregnant mother, police said.

The shooting happened around 4 p.m. Tuesday in the 300 block of East 81st Avenue in Merrillville, Ind., in the parking lot of Plato’s Closet.

The woman, identified by WMAQ as 21-year-old Shaneque Thomas, was sitting in a white sedan with the 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy while her boyfriend shopped. Thomas was in the front seat when the little girl fired the gun from the back seat, police said.

“What I saw was a lady she was almost about to fall, she was like bleeding out with like a bucket of blood on the ground and I just saw her two kids just standing there,” witness Paloma Prieto said.

Employees of Plato’s Closet heard screaming and ran out to help.

“The boyfriend was inside the store shopping so he ran outside because someone told him that there was a girl bleeding and he was yelling, ‘Did you kill yourself? Did you do this to yourself?’," said Hadassah Kirkle, a supervisor at Plato's Closet.

“We grabbed the little boy who was still in the car and we took the little girl from the mom because she was holding her hand and we took them inside and just tried comforting them the best we could,” said Plato's Closet employee Rebecca Todd.

Detective Sgt. James Bogner said the girl "had no idea what she had done and she was very scared."

Thomas was transported to Methodist Hospital’s Southlake campus.

She is listed in critical but stable condition.

The father isn't being named pending formal charges, but police say he was held on suspicion of child endangerment.

The couple had traveled from their home in Michigan City to get pregnancy care at a Planned Parenthood, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana.

The investigation is ongoing.


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