Accidental death: Illinois mother killed by 3-year-old son playing with gun in grocery store parking lot

DOLTON, Ill. – A young mother has died after her toddler accidentally shot her Saturday in Dolton, police say.

One family’s life changed in an instant as they sat in a grocery store parking lot. Police say a 3-year-old boy got his hands on a gun in the back seat of his parents’ car and started playing with the gun. He discharged, hitting his mother, Dejah Bennet, 22, in the neck. She died shortly thereafter.

“It could have been avoided,” said Andrew Holmes, Dolton administrator and crisis responder.

SEE ALSO: Mother accidentally shot her 4-year-old son while carelessly throwing away his purse, police say

Holmes stood outside the supermarket on Sunday, handing out 400 gun locks while speaking to shoppers, families in particular, about the importance of gun safety.

“It’s very important. If you have guns in the house, put them away, lock them up. If you have young children, it doesn’t matter, they meddle in anything and everything,” said Crystal Lyons , resident of Dolton.

“All it takes is a second: unlock it, thread it through the barrel, bring it back, insert it and lock it,” Holmes added. “If you leave it, secure it.”

The boy’s father, who was also present at the time of the shooting, is now in custody as police determine whether there are charges against him.

TAKE ACTION: Resources for Survivors and Victims of Gun Violence

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