HAYDEN, Idaho - A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Wal-Mart and her concealed gun fired, authorities said Tuesday.
Veronica J. Rutledge, 29, was shopping with her son and three other children, Kootenai County sheriff's spokesman Stu Miller said. Rutledge was from Blackfoot in southeastern Idaho, and her family had come to the area to visit relatives.
She had a concealed-weapons permit. Miller said the young boy was in a shopping cart, reached into his mother's purse, and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which discharged one time.
Deputies who responded to the Wal-Mart found Rutledge dead, the sheriff's office said.
"It appears to be a pretty tragic accident," Miller said.
The victim's father-in-law, Terry Rutledge, told the Associated Press that Veronica Rutledge "was a beautiful, young, loving mother."
"She was not the least bit irresponsible," he said. "She was taken much too soon."
The woman's husband was not in the store when the shooting happened about 10:20 a.m. Miller said the husband arrived shortly after the shooting. All the children were taken to a relative's house.
The shooting occurred at a Wal-Mart in Hayden, a town about 40 miles northeast of Spokane, Wash., in Idaho's northern panhandle.
The store closed and was not expected to reopen until Wednesday morning.
Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said in a statement: "We are working closely with the local sheriff's department while they investigate what happened."