4-year-old recovering after dad accidentally shoots him, mom tells News 6
'I just thank everyone for their prayers,' mom says
LEESBURG, Fla. – In an instant, Janiqua Maner's life was turned upside down.
"We were going to go Christmas tree shopping. Literally, that morning we had went to the store and got candy canes and decorations for our Christmas tree," said Maner.
Hours later, her son, 4-year-old Ja'Marion James, was in the hospital after being shot.
The father of their child, Herbert James, was arrested and charged for the shooting.
"At the moment, I was mad at him but after a while I had time to calm down and our son was recovering. I'm like, its more to the situation. The actions that took place in the situation," said Maner.
A neighbor called 911 Wednesday morning after hearing gunshots.
That brought police to Maner and James' Leesburg home.
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Officers discovered a vehicle parked at a home on Berwick Drive that had two bullet holes in its windshield.
The vehicle belongs to Samuel Bellina, who police said works with James.
Bellina told authorities that the two had a few drinks before James asked for a ride home.
"I know that he had a concealed weapons permit, right and he just asked me for a ride home. I drove him home. He asked me if I wanted to see it and I was like, yeah, ‘I'll take a look at it’ and when he pulled it out of the bag he cocked it. And I said, 'Why did you cock it?' and the next thing I know ‘bang bang’ through the windshield," Bellina said.
Bellina said two shots were fired and went through his front windshield. When he heard police sirens he ran away.
"I ran because I was scared. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to get into any trouble," said Bellina.
James came out of the home and became belligerent when officers started questioning him, police said. He then went back into the house and officers heard a gunshot, police said.
"He was looking for his license. His gun license permit where he keeps the gun at as well and some how it just - must wasn't in safe and fell out and that's when everything triggered," said Maner. "He would never purposely do anything to hurt our son. Because he plays a big part in the way our son is raised as well."
Officers said they immediately went inside and found James standing in his living room holding a handgun. Maner was near him holding their wounded 4-year-old son, police said.
Police said James was handling the gun inside his bedroom when the firearm discharged. The bullet traveled through a closet wall and into the adjoining bedroom, where the boy, who was sleeping in his bed, was struck, according to the arrest report.
Officers directed James to place the gun on the floor, and they detained him without incident, police said.
James bonded out of jail Sunday.
Court orders state he's not to have contact with Maner or their son.
Maner told News 6 she hasn't spoken to James.
"You know, everyone has their flaws. Everyone has made mistakes but I just don't want the world the way it's like being seen as though he's a criminal," said Maner.
Right now, her focus is on her son and unborn child she and James share.
"I just thank everyone for their prayers. Like that really helped. When I look at him, I just stare at my son and I know that's nothing but God and nothing but support and prayers that he's been getting," said Maner. "I know I have to get my head back in the, you know like it's Christmas time, what am I going to do now."
Ja'Marion has been asking for his dad. For now, Maner doesn't want to tell him what truly happened.
"I just tell him that daddy is at work on a long vacation," said Maner.
As Ja'Marion recovers, she worries how they will move forward financially. With a baby on the way and her support system facing child abuse charges, she says she's trying to stay positive for her son. But as the holidays approach it's difficult.
"[He asks] Did you talk to Santa Claus. Did you call Santa Claus? Oh, tell Santa Claus I want this," said Maner. "That's the next step. Like financially what am I going to do. But just thank the Lord."
James has a court date set for December 26th, 2017.
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