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Boy, 3, finds gun in Target parking lot

Gun owner located, no charges expected

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published July 12, 2019

 A bag containing a handgun was discovered by a child July 5 in a Target parking lot.

A bag containing a handgun was discovered by a child July 5 in a Target parking lot.

Photo provided by Shannon Tonak


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — No charges are expected to be filed against a woman whose gun was found by a child in a Target parking lot.

The weapon was discovered July 5 by the 3-year-old son of Harrison Township resident Shannon Tonak at the Target store located at 33860 Gratiot Ave., near Quinn Road.

Tonak, 28, said she and her three children — who also include her 6-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son — shopped for about 45 minutes inside the store at around 4 p.m. that afternoon. The youngest child sat in the shopping cart with the groceries, while the other two kids walked alongside.

Tonak opened her trunk to put the groceries inside, and then took the youngest child out of the cart. While unlocking the vehicle, her 3-year-old found an item on the parking lot concrete.

“My son goes to bend down to pick something up,” Tonak said. “It looked like a first aid kit, an emergency kit. I stopped him and grabbed it.”

When she opened the case in an attempt to see who the property belonged to, she found something unexpected.

“All that was in there was a gun,” she said, adding that she zipped up the bag and immediately called 911.

Tonak said she has received numerous messages and comments on social media, calling her a “neglectful mother” and insinuating that her son was wandering around the parking lot by himself.

She said that if she hadn’t been near her children, one of them may have accidentally picked up the gun and shot themselves or one another.

Tonak was upset that the focus was on her parenting, and not on the individual who left the gun and bag in a busy parking lot in the first place.

“I wasn’t the one who dropped the gun,” she said. “It wasn’t my gun, obviously. People seem to be focusing more on that than an irresponsible gun owner.

“I had no idea what was in (the bag); (my son) had no idea what was in it,” she said. “Our kids are taught not to touch guns.”

She took a photo of the bag that contained the gun and posted it on social media. Clinton Township police came to the scene in what she estimated was “four minutes at the most,” taking down information for their report and making sure Tonak left none of her own fingerprints.

Clinton Township Police Capt. Richard Maierle said the gun is lawfully owned by a woman from Grosse Pointe Farms. The weapon was identified as a Ruger .380 semi-automatic handgun.

The gun owner reportedly told police that someone allegedly broke into her vehicle while she was shopping and removed the bag containing the gun and left it on the ground.

Maierle said the gun’s magazine was loaded, but there were no bullets in the chamber.

Given that the woman is a legal gun owner, Maierle said last week it was likely that no charges would be pursued.