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

ByMichelle Gallardo WLS logo
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Young mother killed after accidentally shot by toddler playing with gun; father in custody
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Police said a 3-year-old boy got hold of a gun in the back seat of his parent's car and began playing with the weapon when it discharged.

DOLTON, Illinois -- A young mother is dead after her toddler accidentally shot her Saturday in Dolton, according to police.

A family's life was changed in an instant while sitting in a grocery store parking lot. Police said a 3-year-old boy got his hands on a gun in the back seat of his parents' car and began playing with the weapon. It discharged, hitting his mother, 22-year-old Dejah Bennet, in the neck. She died a short time later.

"This could have been prevented," said Dolton trustee and crisis responder Andrew Holmes.

SEE ALSO: Mother accidentally shot 4-year-old son by carelessly tossing her purse, police say

Holmes stood outside the supermarket 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 do have guns at home, put them up -- lock them up. If you have little children, it doesn't matter, they get into any and everything," said Dolton resident Crystal Lyons.

"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 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 any charges to be filed against him.

TAKE ACTION: Resources for survivors and victims of gun violence