UPDATED: Urbana teen who allegedly shot child in head released from detention
URBANA — A 15-year-old Urbana teen accused of shooting his 8-year-old nephew in the head was released from detention Wednesday afternoon.
Judge Harry Clem allowed the teen to return to the home of his mother, where hours earlier the teen told police a backpack fell from a table, causing a modified flare gun to accidentally discharge and hit the child.
State’s Attorney Julia Rietz filed a juvenile petition charging the teen only with a single count of reckless discharge of a firearm, a Class 4 felony. Had she opted for the more serious aggravated battery with a firearm charge, it would have meant an automatic transfer to adult court for the teen, who has no prior adjudications or even any police contacts.
Clem ordered the teen to stay in his mother’s home but said he could go out if accompanied by an adult over 30 approved by his mother. He’s due back in court July 17.
Urbana police Sgt. Dan Morgan said the shooting happened at the teen’s home in the 800 block of Hawthorne Drive about 9:50 p.m.
Officers found the boy with an obvious head wound.
A great-aunt to the child told The News-Gazette after her other nephew’s detention hearing that the child is in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Carle Foundation Hospital, doing “way better than they expected.”
She said doctors told the family they believe they removed all the skull fragments from his brain and that he was resting. It was too early to tell if he will make a full recovery.
Morgan said the 15-year-old told police he knocked a backpack off a table, there was a loud sound, and then saw the younger boy hurt.
After talking to the teen and finding inconsistencies between what he told them and what they saw in the home, police decided to arrest him.
The backpack that had the flare gun, modified to fire a .410 gauge shotgun shell, was not damaged. There was also a Mason jar containing cannabis flakes and plastic bags in the bag. In the same room, described as a storage area, police found a loaded Glock gun in a box without a lid. Scales with cannabis flakes were found in the teen's room, Rietz said.
Morgan said there was a parent and two other younger children in the home at the time of the shooting and police are continuing to interview all of them as well as try to learn how the guns got in the home.
The teen denied initially to police that he touched the flare gun, which Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsey Clark said had a metal pipe attached to the barrel.
Morgan said at least one of the younger children may have seen what happened.