12News has learned that a babysitter has been arrested after a child in her care found a loaded gun and fatally shot himself.
Melissa Ann Ringhardt, 19, of Vidor, has been charged with abandoning or endangering a child which is a state jail felony. Ringhardt was arrested Tuesday at a friend's home in the 1600 block of Willowbend in the Vidor area. She was taken to the Orange County Sheriff's Office where she was questioned before being booked into jail.
According to a news release from the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Ringhardt had been living in the Read family home for the past few months. On Monday, Ringhardt was left in the home with 5-year-old John Read and another 6-month-old child belonging to Kayla and Joe Read. Ringhardt told investigators that she was carrying a handgun on her person in the home that day because she was scared being at home alone. The handgun was a semi-automatic .40 caliber pistol. Ringhardt left the handgun on a coffee table in the living room and went to the bedroom to take a nap. When she was awakened from her nap, she noticed she didn't see John around the house. She began looking until she found him deceased in the living room with the fatal gunshot wound.
The 6-month-old child was not harmed. Ringhardt carried both children to the grandparent's house to get help.
Orange County Justice of the Peace Judge David Peck on Wednesday set Ringhardt's bond at $250,000.