FLATBUSH — A 22-year-old man was charged in the brutal shooting of a 3-year-old in Flatbush on Saturday, but he denied committing the henious act, according to press reports.
Akeem Bernard, who lives in the same building as little Tharell Edward, was seen holding the blood-drenched child moments after the boy's babysitter — who according to the NY Daily News had gone to the bathroom — heard a gunshot go off, according to the complaint filed around 1 p.m. by the Brooklyn District Attorney's office.
"She heard a loud bang, and saw the victim was in the defendant's arms and bleeding profusely from his head," said Sandy Silverstein, a spokesman for the DA's office.
After the gun went off, Bernard allegedly told the babysitter, Alexis Wells, not to call 911 "until he had time to stash the gun," Silverstein said. Bernard, who lives on the fourth floor, then left the child's second-floor apartment and returned soon after, the DA's office said.
At first, he allegedly tried to hide the gun in a shoebox inside the little boy's crib, the DA's office noted. Tharell was still clinging to life Sunday in critical but stable condition, police said.
Cops found a shell casing from a .40-caliber pistol inside the bedroom of little Tharell, according to the complaint. Bernard was charged with second-degree assault, criminal possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, and tampering with evidence, the DA's office said. Despite the office's request for bail of $500,000, the judge set bail at a bond of $75,000 or $50,000 in cash.
Bernard was taken into custody early Sunday, police said, and as he was removed from the precinct wearing only a Tyvek suit, said "I did not shoot anybody," the News reported.
Police said it was unclear what the relationship between Bernard and the boy's mother, Nichelle Edward, who lives in the unit, was.
Neighbors said they worried Tharell had already led a rough life for such a young child, but calls to the Administration for Children's Services were not returned Saturday.
"A lot of people saw it coming," said Tamara Dennis, 37, who said she's known Nichelle Edward for years. "Everybody is praying for him. I am just sad it happened...he is adorable."
Two women, one who identified herself as Bernard's mother, told the News they didn't believe it could have been the 22-year-old who shot Tharell.