A trip to the supermarket turned fatal this weekend when a 3-year-old boy found a gun in the backseat of a vehicle, picked it up and accidentally shot his mother dead.
Dejah Bennet, 22, was pronounced dead at University of Chicago Medical Center at 9:34 p.m. Saturday, according to information from the Cook County medical examiner's office.
She was rushed to the hospital after emergency responders located her suffering from a gunshot wound in the parking lot of a supermarket in Dolton, officials said.
Gun Left Unattended, Boy's Father Taken into Custody
The shooting happened after Bennet and her son went grocery shopping. Soon after Bennet put the child in his car seat and sat down in the driver's seat, the toddler found the weapon that had been left unattended. The boy discharged the firearm and the bullet struck Bennet's upper body, killing her.
Authorities said the boy's father was in custody after indicating that he owned the gun. As on Monday, no charges had been filed against him.
"This could have been prevented," Dolton activist Andrew Holmes said on Sunday as he visited the supermarket to hand out gun locks and speak to shoppers about the importance of gun safety. "All it takes is a second: unlock it, thread it through the barrel, bring it back around, put it in and lock it back," Holmes told WLS-TV. "If you leave it, secure it."
Accidental Shootings by Children
"Guns kill, especially when it gets in the hands of children and it's not the child's fault," Holmes continued. "It's the adult's fault because they have a responsibility to keep these guns locked down and away from these kids."
Holmes said people often forget they've left their gun in the car, underscoring the importance of having the weapon locked â no matter where it's stored.
"Some people put these guns in the seat, they don't take it in the house and they forget when they come out in the morning that their children are getting inside of the car. And all of a sudden, that gun rolls out from underneath the seat of the car and the child gets a hold of it," he added.
According to data analyzed by advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, there were 2,070 accidental shootings by children in the United States between 2015 and 2021. So far this year there have been at least 43 unintentional shootings by children in the U.S., resulting in 16 deaths and 29 injuries. Last year, there were at least 379 unintentional shootings by children nationwide, resulting in 154 deaths and 244 injuries, the group said.