Semi-Automatic in Hands of Toddler: Mom Killed

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A 3-year-old boy fatally shot his mom as she changed his baby sister’s diaper a couple of weeks ago.

Was there motive? Had she put him on an unjustified time-out? Had she shut off the TV while he was enjoying Sesame Street? Or maybe she told him No, he couldn’t climb up onto the counter to help himself to a cookie?

Ridiculous, you say? Absolutely! There was no conscious intention in the mind of this toddler. He got his hands on a semi-automatic that was among a collection of guns kept in the house by his father.

Gun ownership is a much debated topic, with good reason. The debate is raging in many states. Texas is addressing its ban on open carry, as are other states.[See video below.]

But it’s not the presence of guns in a home that lead to unexpected injury and death. It’s negligence by gun owners.

The fact that a load gun was within reach of a toddler is just as ludicrous as attributing a motive to his actions. Carelessness resulting in death is inexcusable. No doubt, the father in this case is greiving not only his young wife’s untimely death, but also his own [and perhaps his wife’s] inattention to storage precautions. The incident will haunt him the rest of his life.

Here are the details, as reported by Newser:

A young Oklahoma mom is dead after her 3-year-old accidentally shot her, KJRH reports. Christa Engles, a 26-year-old from Tulsa, was believed to be changing her 1-year-old daughter’s diaper in her living room when police say her preschool son wandered in with a semi-automatic handgun and shot her in the head. Engles was found by her mother-in-law, who lives in the house, when she arrived home late yesterday afternoon. Engles’ husband, a truck driver who was on the road, arrived home yesterday evening after hearing about the shooting; he was only able to confirm his wife’s death by repeatedly calling the hospital. “It was a horrible, horrible accident,” homicide detective Dave Walker tells News on 6.

Police say that the boy tried to get out of the house before his grandmother got home and that the home seemed to be generally childproofed, making it unclear how the weapon fell into the boy’s hands. However, Walker says, “There [were] several guns in the house,” and a neighbor tells KJRH that Engles was in the Army and that the boy found the gun underneath a couch. The child appears to grasp what happened: According to KJRH, he said, “Mommy shot” over and over as he was loaded into a patrol car to be interviewed by child specialists. They had to question him as the only witness other than the baby to the shooting.

Gun owners: Take this, please, as a cautionary tale. Check, double check and triple check the whereabouts of weapons and ammunition, as well as all safety mechanics of your firearms. You cannot be too careful.



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