Judge Scolds Mom After Gun in Child's Backpack Goes Off, Wounding Student at Chicago School

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A judge scolded a mother Wednesday for being “supremely negligent” after her 8-year-old son allegedly found a gun under her bed and brought it to school, where it went off and grazed a classmate.

“We are inches away, possibly centimeters away, from a very different case and a very different tragedy,” Judge Michael Hogan told Tatanina Kelly, 28.

Kelly was charged with misdemeanor counts of child endangerment after the gun discharged in her son’s backpack Tuesday morning at Walt Disney Magnet School, 4140 N. Marine Drive, in the Buena Park neighborhood.

The bullet struck the ground, ricochetted and grazed the abdomen of a 7-year-old boy, causing a small laceration and redness, prosecutors said in court. The boy was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital in good condition, officials said.

A teacher grabbed the backpack and gave it to school security officers, who found a Glock 19 handgun inside, prosecutors said.

The 8-year-old had apparently found the gun under his mother’s bed, according to prosecutors, who did not say if it was stored inside something. The mother has a valid firearm owners identification (FOID) card, according to prosecutors.

Defense attorney Rodger Clarke acknowledged “the gun probably should have been locked up somewhere,” but told the judge that Kelly had no criminal record and argued it was a “one-time incident, not soon to be repeated.”

“This wasn’t something she planned or something she did of her own volition,” Clarke said. “How the kid knew there was a gun under the bed is beyond me. … It’s not like she went out and did something purposefully that violated that law.”

But Judge Hogan countered that “this may not have been an intentional act, but it is a supremely negligent act. We don’t know how [the child] knew the gun was under the bed … but he obviously did because he went and got it.”

That indicates the gun was readily accessible and not stored in a way that would have prevented the boy from obtaining a loaded gun, the judge said.

He ordered Kelly to post $1,000 bond to be released from the Cook County Jail while the case continues. She was expected back in court on Tuesday.

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