A young mother in Idaho in north-western United States was shot dead by her two-year-old son in a Walmart store.
The 29-year-old woman identified as Veronica J Rutledge, was shopping with her toddler and other family members, many of who were children. The boy, who was seated in the shopping cart accessed the weapon concealed in the woman's purse and discharged it, accidentally shooting the victim, a Facebook post from Kootenai County Sheriff's office revealed.
The victim, a native of Blackfoot south of Idaho, was visiting Hayden for the holidays and had gone shopping at Walmart in Hayden around 10:20 am (EST) on 30 December, 2014. Rutledge and the children were in the electronics section when the shooting occurred.
The WalMart store in Hayden, a town about 40 miles northeast of Spokane in Washington, which closed after the shooting, is not expected to reopen until Wednesday 6.00 am (EST).
"A very sad incident occurred at our store today involving the death of a female customer. We are fully cooperating with the Kootenai County Sheriff's deputies as they investigate this matter," Walmart said in a statement on Tuesday.
The detectives are currently processing the scene and family members of the victim have been notified. Witnesses and video surveillance from the store confirm that the shooting was accidental.
There have been vigorous debates on the nature of gun laws in the United States, especially since there is a lack of clear federal court rulings defining the right to keep and bear arms until recently. Gun control advocates see the individual right to bear arms for self-defense as an excuse for handing out guns and increasing crime in communities.
While there is no real evidence to determine the effectiveness of firearms laws with regards to violent outcome, the tragic death of the young woman could have been avoided if not for the carelessly placed gun.