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'My Baby's Been Shot!' Chaotic Scene Unfolds in a Motel in New Mexico

Eight-month-old baby shot in a motel in Gulup, New Mexico.

Associated Press

Updated:December 20, 2018, 2:59 PM IST
'My Baby's Been Shot!' Chaotic Scene Unfolds in a Motel in New Mexico
Image for representation.

New Mexico: Half-way threw his meal at a Taco Bell on a highway in New Mexico, Casey Franchot a 43-year-old US Army medic heard someone scream, "My baby's been shot!" The screams belonged to 18-year-old Native American Shayanne Nelson, who yelled for help after she found that her eight-month-old infant had been shot.

Franchot dropped his food and dashed across the busy Route 66 in Gallup, New Mexico to a motel from where Nelson had been screaming for help. He found what police described as a chaotic scene involving a distraught teenage mother, a baby with a gunshot wound to the face, a confused 3-year-old boy and a boyfriend who was frantically trying to wipe away evidence of the incident.

According to a family member, the scene was the latest in a series of tragic episodes between the "controlling" boyfriend and the 18-year-old mother, who belongs to a Native American tribe – Navajo.

Gallup police said that detectives are still trying to connect the moments leading to when a bullet from a .32 caliber revolver struck the face of an eight-month-old girl near her left ear and her left eye. The bullet, one officer said, left the infant deaf in one ear and may leave her blind in one eye.

Police are yet to uncover who fired the gun. Nelson told police that she and her boyfriend, Tyrell Bitsilly, were in a shower when they heard the gunshot. She ran out to discover her daughter bleeding from the face, she told the police.

Nelson believe’s that her son accidentally shot his infant sister with a gun that a previous occupant had left in the room. However, according to Franchot he saw the 21-year-old boyfriend wipe the gun with a towel, while the doctor was trying to save the infant’s life.

"I was also prepared to grab the baby and roll on the room for cover in case he started shooting," Franchot said.

The baby was rushed to the Gallup Indian Medical Center in a police car.

Gallup Police Officer Darius Johnson told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday that the 8-month-old infant is in an induced coma and is being treated at hospital in Albuquerque.

Meanwhile, Nelson and Bitsilly were arrested and charged with child abuse. Bitsilly was additionally charged for tampering with evidence. Court records show that this wasn’t the first time Bitsilly was involved in a shooting which also involved Nelson and her two children.

In October, Gallup police arrested Bitsilly after authorities said he fired a weapon inside a car where Nelson, her mother and the two young kids. Bitsilly was charged for aggravated assault with deadly weapon, child abuse, shooting from a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence.

"Shayanne was trying to break up with him," Nelson’s sister, Shanna Nelson, said in an interview. "He got mad and shot at the (car's) floorboard."

“After the October shooting, Shayanne promised to get a restraining order against Bitsilly,” her sister said.

The pair had been in an on-and-off relationship ever since Shayanne's fiance and the father of her two children was killed in a car accident last year, Shanna Nelson said. He was often emotionally and physically abusive, she said. But, Nelson, who regularly found herself with no place to stay, returned to Bitsilly for comfort and out of fear, according to her sister.

During a court appearance on Wednesday, Shayanne walked into court and waved to her sister and her niece. When McKinley County Magistrate Judge Robert Baca announced he was keeping her bond at $20,000, she threw her head back. "She doesn't have $2,000 to get out," her sister said. "None of us do."

The 18-year-old stood motionless as lawyers agreed to postpone the preliminary hearing until January 9 thanks to new video evidence. As police escorted Shayanne Nelson out, her tearful sister yelled, "We love you, Shayanne!" The young mother did not look back.

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