Brother arrested after 2-year-old shot himself in leg with stolen gun at Costco, police say

Zyaire Cornelius, 18, was booked with second-degree cruelty to juveniles and illegally...
Zyaire Cornelius, 18, was booked with second-degree cruelty to juveniles and illegally possessing a stolen firearm in connection to a 1-year-old shot Tuesday (July 12) at the Costco New Orleans fuel station.(Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 11:38 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An 18-year-old man was arrested late Tuesday night (July 12) in connection with a shooting that critically injured his 2-year-old brother hours earlier at the Costco New Orleans gas station.

Zyaire Cornelius was booked with second-degree cruelty to juveniles and with illegally possessing a stolen firearm, a gun New Orleans police said was recovered after the toddler was shot around 3:50 p.m.

Cornelius was booked into the Orleans Justice Center jail Tuesday at 11:21 p.m., records show, and his bond was set Wednesday afternoon at $70,000 by Orleans Parish Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn. The NOPD had detained Cornelius and a 16-year-old girl for questioning Tuesday, but only Cornelius was arrested.

The 2-year-old boy, initially described by police as a 1-year-old victim, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition. The child was described as suffering from “a large amount of blood loss” from a gunshot wound to the leg, according to court documents.

An NOPD detective’s sworn affidavit says the child’s wound was self-inflicted.

“The gross negligence of Mr. Cornelius leaving the firearm in the rear seat with the 2-year-old victim resulted in the 2-year-old victim shooting himself in the leg,” NOPD investigator Jesse Roger wrote.

After a search warrant was obtained for the dark gray Dodge Challenger that Cornelius pulled into the gas station with, police said they recovered “an AR-15 pistol wedged in between the driver seat and the center console.” They also said they found a Glock 19 firearm with an extended magazine on the rear passenger floorboard.

That weapon, which police say fired the 9mm bullet that wounded the boy, was identified by its serial number as a gun reported stolen out of St. Tammany Parish in 2020.

If charged and convicted of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, Cornelius could face up to 40 years in state prison. Possession of a stolen firearm carries a penalty of 1-5 years for a first offense under Louisiana law.

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