Two-year-old child shot in Polk County

LAKELAND - A two-year-old was shot Monday night after deputies said he got his hands on a loaded handgun that was inside his family's truck.

It happened just before 8:30 p.m.

"I heard a gunshot," said Orlando Coriadad, a neighbor.

Coriadad said he rushed outside and immediately smelled gun powder in the air.

Polk County deputies said the little boy followed his mother, Stephanie Nealy, 29, outside to the family's truck to retrieve a pre-paid card. Nealy told detectives there was a loaded gun inside the truck and she moved it from its original location to another location while she was searching for the card.

According to deputies, that is when she heard a gunshot and saw her son Taj fall to the ground. Nealy and the boy's father, Hathum Ayesh, 36, rushed the little boy to Lakeland Regional Hospital but he did not survive.

"My son comes in and says, 'A baby has been shot!  A baby has been shot!'" recalled Barbara Griffin, neighbor. 

"And so I ran out, and I as ran out, I stood there by the truck, where they were at and they took off."

Griffin watched as the boy's parents drove him to the hospital.

Griffin described the little boy as intelligent and sweet.

"No one, on family deserves this," Griffin added.

Deputies have not said if charges will be filed.

A background check on Ayesh revealed he has been arrested in the past for possession of ecstasy, possession of drug paraphernalia, battery and running a dwelling for drug use.

Nealy has also been charged two separate times with driving on a suspended or revoked license.

Donna Wood with the Polk County Sheriff's Office told ABC Action News she does not believe either parent was on parole.

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