A young mother is behind bars and a young child in the hospital tonight.
Police say 21-year old Shaneka Washington allegedly hit her ten-month-old baby, sending her to the hospital with severe injuries.
The mother of four was arrested Tuesday, after she called 9-1-1 saying her daughter was having trouble breathing.
A doctor determined the infant had been hit in the head and police arrested Washington.
But...allegations of abuse come as a surprise to those who know the young mother.
Shaneka Washington’s neighbors at this Benton Harbor housing complex say they don't believe the woman they know could have hurt her children.
Cuwan Reed lives next door, and has known the 21 year old mother of four for years. He says, “It’s very shocking cause I never thought a person like her standards would do something like that would do something like that to a child.”
Neighbors and friends say there must be some other explanation for what happened to her ten month old baby. “i don't think she literally put her hands on the baby, they probably fell a few times,” says Zachary Johnson.
All four of Washington’s children are now in the care of Berrien County Child Protective Services.
They say neighbors should be on the look out for signs of abuse. “Behavior, unusual bruises or marks on children, children who may not come outside to play often, there’s a variety of things that neighbors and friends can look at” says Jerry Frank, Director of Human Services for Berrien County.
But those who knew Shaneka say they never saw or heard anything unusual, and that her kids were like any others. “The two ones that could talk they're very respectful and very polite,” Cuwan Reed tells us.
Zach Johnson says “They’re cool. I treat them like they’re mine.”
While her neighbors say they hope the allegations of abuse aren't true, they hope everything works out the way it should.
“If she did come to put her hands on that baby i feel no remorse for her,” Cuwan Reed says.
Zach Johnson adds, “I just hope everything is alright, the baby, her. I just hope everything work out alright.”
The child was air lifted to Bronson hospital in Kalamazoo, where she underwent emergency surgery Tuesday.
Today, Benton Harbor police tell us the baby is still in critical condition.
They can't tell us where the children are staying, but say they are in good hands.