HAYDEN, Idaho — A 29-year-old mother was fatally shot Tuesday in an Idaho Walmart when her 2-year-old son in the shopping cart grabbed a gun that was in her purse and shot her in an apparent accident, authorities said.
Detectives were investigating the scene and Walmart officials immediately shuttered the store in Hayden after the shooting happened around 10:20 a.m., said the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.
The mother’s name wasn’t being released as authorities were notifying her family, the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities said Veronica J. Rutledge’s was in the store’s electronics department with her 2-year-old son and three other children when the little boy reached into her purse and her concealed gun fired.
Terry Rutledge, the victim’s father-in-law told The Associated Press, that Veronica Rutledge “was a beautiful, young, loving mother.”
“She was not the least bit irresponsible. She was taken much too soon,” he said.
“The shooting appears to be accidental,” said a statement by Sheriff Ben Wolfinger and Lt. Stu Miller.
At a press conference, Miller said the mother was shopping at the back of the store in the electronics department.
“It appears that the victim brought several of her children here to do some shopping after the holidays,” Miller told reporters in the parking lot. “The child looks like to be sitting in the shopping cart with the purse while the female victim was shopping.”
“Here it is around the holidays, just after Christmas and right before the New Year — tragic, tragic accident,” Miller said. “It’s not a pleasant experience right now.”
“A very sad incident happened in our store in Hayden, Idaho that involved a female customer,” said Walmart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan. “We are working closely with the local sheriff’s department as they investigate what happened.”
The Walmart reopened Wednesday morning, officials said.