US toddler kills mother while playing with gun

Boy, 3, manages from the back seat of their car to get his father's gun and pull the trigger

Makeshift shrines to those killed in Chicago, Illinois, by gun violence is a common sight. Getty / AFP
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An American toddler accidentally shot and killed his mother while playing with a gun in their car in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, police said on Monday.

The latest gun tragedy in the US occurred on Saturday evening in the parking lot of a supermarket in Dolton, a suburb of the Midwestern city.

The boy was sitting in the child seat in the back of the car with his parents in the front. Without anyone noticing, he got his hands on his father's pistol.

The child "began playing with it inside the car. At some point the child pulled the trigger", local police chief Robert Collins said.

His mother, Daejah Bennett, was shot in the back of the neck. She was rushed to a Chicago hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The father was taken into custody while police investigated whether he possessed the gun legally and whether he should face charges, Mr Collins said.

The death is just one in a series of comparable 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 just left out", and pull the triggers accidentally, a recent report by Everytown for Gun Safety said.

The organisation, which campaigns for better supervision of firearms and their storage, estimates that unintentional shootings by minors cause an average of 350 deaths each year.

More generally, firearms cause about 40,000 deaths a year in the US, including suicides, the Gun Violence Archive website says.

Updated: March 14, 2022, 11:28 PM