Man charged in shooting of 7-year-old child

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ST. LOUIS -- A suspect has been charged in the case of a 7-year-old boy who was wounded by a gunshot that came through the floor of the apartment where he was visiting. It happened Tuesday night in the 3900 block of South Grand. Late Wednesday Saint Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce issued warrants against 29-year-old Jeffrey Eckstein. He is charged with second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

According to court documents Eckstein was in a downstairs apartment and was intoxicated while handling a .40 caliber semi automatic pistol. The gun discharged and the bullet traveled through the ceiling and into the apartment above. Tuesday night the 7-year-old boy was said to be in stable condition at a hospital.

Brenda Shepard-Bennett lives in the apartment. She said the boy and his 9-year-old brother were being cared for by her daughter. The children are younger brothers of her daughter's boyfriend. Shepard-Bennett said she heard a pop as she walked into the living room. "The little boy woke up screaming." He had been sleeping on a couch. They quickly realized he was bleeding and called police.

The building landlord Nancy Kreis said she had only recently rented the downstairs unit to the 29-year-old suspect. "I knew he had a gun, but I didn't know that he was dangerous." She said he was helping to clean up the property and paint it. "We thought he was a good guy."

A judge has set a $50,000 cash only bond for Eckstein.

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