Mom charged after kid sets off firecracker

July 14, 2008 8:01:35 PM PDT
A 26-year-old mother is facing charges of child abuse after her four-year-old blew off his fingers with illegal fireworks. Police say Adonnika Gilchrist left her child home alone with the explosives. His mother maintains he was in the care of her boyfriend.

Surrounded by friends and family, Adonnika Gilchrist was led from an Oakland courtroom. She was free on $91,000 bail, with her face covered by a large white purse. Friends say they don't want her or her four-year-old's faces made public. Adonnika told police she left her child with her boyfriend at her East Oakland home in the Lockwood Gardens near 65th Avenue.

"We heard a big boom," says neighbor Carl Goodman.

Goodman lives across from Gilchrist. He says he heard screams last Thursday and saw a sight that terrified him and his children.

"His hand was over the rail with all the blood gushing out and running down. That's why I went up there and wrapped it up so everybody else wouldn't see it."

There are still blood specs on the rail where four-year-old Tamarcus held his hand. Police say the boy lit the explosive on the stove and it blew up in his right hand, taking all but his pinky.

Friends say Tamarkus' mother told police that her boyfriend, a man she calls Dwight, was with her son that day.

Police say Adonnika was arrested and charged with child abuse because evidence they have shows he was by himself with illegal fireworks.

"Right now, we know that the child was left alone. The child was four years old and it's very upsetting," says Jeff Tomasason of the Oakland Police Department.

Some neighbors say a man ran away after the incident. Goodman says he didn't see anyone leave.

Tanika Reed, a close childhood friend who came to court, insists the child would never be left alone by his mother and Adonnika should not have been arrested.

"I'm just mad. I'm upset that she's in jail that she didn't get a fair chance. No words. Just arrest her and put her in a car and go? I'm mad."

The four-year-old is now in protective custody. The boy's grandmother is trying to get the child released to her.

"When she gets out, you best believe that she gonna' get him back," says Reed.

The four-year-old has lost part of his hearing as well as four fingers. He cannot have any contact with the boy whatsoever. Adonnika is due back on court next Monday at 9 a.m.


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