Police said Monday that a three-year-old American child accidentally shot and killed his mother while playing with a rifle in a Chicago suburb.
The tragedy, which is all too common in the United States, occurred Saturday night in the parking lot of a supermarket in Dolton, a Midwestern suburb of the city.
The boy was sitting in a child’s seat in the back of a car while his parents sat in the front. Without anyone knowing how, he managed to get his hands on his father’s pistol.
The child “started playing with it in the car. At some point, the child pulled the trigger,” local police chief Robert Collins told AFP.
His mother, Daejah Bennett, 22, was shot in the neck. She was taken to a Chicago hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The father was taken into custody while police investigate whether he legally owned the gun and whether he should be charged, Collins said.
The death is just one in a series of similar accidents.
“Every year, hundreds of children in the United States gain access to unsecured, loaded guns in closets and nightstand drawers, in backpacks and purses, or simply leave them lying around” and accidentally shoot bullets, according to a recent report by Everytown For Gun Safety.
The organization, which advocates for better gun control and, in particular, for requiring safe storage, estimates that “accidental shootings” by minors cause an average of 350 deaths each year.
According to the Gun Violence Archive website, approximately 40,000 deaths, including suicides, are caused by firearms in the United States each year.