Police: Parents charged after video shows 12-month-old playing with handgun

WARNING: Video may be disturbing for some viewers

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - An Indiana couple was charged with child neglect on Friday after Evansville police discovered cellphone video that allegedly showed a 12-month-old putting a .40-caliber handgun in his mouth.

Michael L. Barnes, 19, was initially arrested Thursday after police said he tried to sell an undercover officer a handgun through Facebook. Barnes did not have a permit for a handgun, officers wrote in Thursday’s arrest affidavit. He also had an active warrant for his arrest, Evansville Courier & Press reports.

During the follow up investigation on Friday, detectives with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives/Evansville Police Department Task Force were examining Barnes’ cellphone for evidence related to the attempted sale of the handgun, according to a department news release. Investigators found two videos on the phone that showed a 12-month-old boy playing with a handgun that appears to be the same one that was recovered from Barnes during his arrest, police said.

Police said Barnes can be heard telling the child to say “pow” on multiple occasions while the child plays with the gun. The video also shows the child placing the muzzle of the gun in his mouth. At no point does Barnes try to stop the child from playing with the gun, according to the release.

Investigators determined the child’s mother, Toni Wilson, 22, was present when the video was made. Wilson had been with Barnes during his Thursday night arrest, but was released at the scene. She denied knowing Barnes had a gun at that time.

When confronted about the video Friday afternoon, she claimed the handgun was a pellet gun, according to the release.

Wilson faces preliminary charges of child neglect, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon and allowing a child to possess a firearm. Barnes is also facing those charges in addition to his original charges from his Thursday night arrest.

The 12-month-old and two 1-month-old twins were placed into emergency care. Barnes is not the father of the 12-month-old, but is the father of the twins.

Barnes was out on bond from a robbery case when he was arrested on Thursday, according to Thursday’s arrest affidavit. Barnes’ warrant, which was issued in November, was for failing to appear for a hearing in the robbery case, court records show.

According to the Evansville Police Department affidavit from Thursday, detectives spotted a Facebook post from Barnes on a trade-and-sell page asking for ammunition for a .40-caliber handgun. During correspondence with police, Barnes allegedly agreed to sell the handgun Thursday afternoon in exchange for another weapon and cash, and set up a meeting near the intersection of Columbia and Garvin streets.

According to the affidavit, sheriff deputies who were set up in the area spotted Barnes walking toward the exchange spot and tried to arrest him for the outstanding warrant.

Barnes fled, but was stopped by a police dog, according to the affidavit.

Barnes was treated at Deaconess Hospital for bite wounds before he was booked into the Vanderburgh County jail Thursday evening.

Police said they located the weapon Barnes had agreed to sell to detectives near where he was arrested. It was loaded, according to the affidavit.

Barnes is preliminarily charged with carrying a handgun without a permit and resisting law enforcement. He also faces an additional charge weapons charge because he was within 500 feet of Delaware Elementary School when he was first confronted by law enforcement, according to the affidavit.

Barnes is being held without bond, according to jail records.

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