A 3-year-old stood frozen in fear inside a Deerfield Beach liquor store as her mother scrambled to hide a handgun after her boyfriend shot himself in the leg, authorities said.
Stefanie Felicia Stern, 28, was arrested Tuesday and faces charges of child neglect without great bodily harm and tampering with evidence, jail records show. She is accused of leaving her daughter alone in a liquor store while she and her boyfriend disposed of a gun with which he had shot himself.
During first-appearance court Wednesday, Broward Judge John “Jay” Hurley set Stern’s bond at $2,000 and appointed a guardian for her daughter.
“She left her daughter alone in the liquor store and placed her in harm’s way,” Hurley read from a report. “The daughter is seen frozen in fear as she witnesses these events.”
Stern was with her daughter and Reginald Leon Lee, 34, inside the B21 Liquor store at 4591 N. Dixie Hwy. on Dec. 22 when Lee started arguing with another customer, according to her arrest warrant.
Lee chased the customer out of the store with a gun; when he walked back inside he fumbled with his pants and shot himself in the right leg, the warrant said. Lee then handed the gun to Stern and the two ran to a nearby alley to hide the gun, leaving the child in the store.
When deputies arrived at the liquor store, Lee told them he had been shot by a stranger and he needed an ambulance, the warrant said. Lee was taken to Broward Health North, where he refused to cooperate with authorities. Lee is not facing charges.
Stern told detectives she did not see what happened or how Lee had been shot, the warrant said.
Detectives went to the liquor store the next day and viewed surveillance footage that shows the argument, Lee shooting himself, and he and Stern leaving the child and trying to hide the gun, the warrant said.