A TODDLER has shot his mother dead in a supermarket, after he reached into her purse and fired a concealed handgun.
The 29-year-old was shopping in the store in Hayden, Ohio, with the toddler and at least three other children when she was shot and killed shortly after 10am.
The toddler had been placed in a shopping trolley's child-seat and was able to put his hand into the woman's purse. She died before the emergency services could reach her, police said.
Officers used the store's CCTV footage and witness testimonies to conclude the shooting was a tragic accident.
They said the woman had a licence to carry a concealed weapon but it was unclear why the gun went off so easily when squeezed by a toddler, and whether a safety catch was engaged.
Kootenai County sheriff's spokesman Stu Miller said the incident in the store about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Spokane, Washington, was an accident.
The woman was visiting the politically conservative town with a popular of 9,000 for the holiday season. She was browsing the store's electronics section when the incident occurred, deputies said according to broadcaster KREM 2.
The Sheriff's Office said in a statement: "Detectives are currently processing the scene. Family notifications are also being made. Once the notifications are complete, the name of the victim will be released."
Staff and shoppers in the store when the gun went off were evacuated. The shop remained closed while police carried out their investigation.
Lieutenant Miller tweeted that the store will not re-open until 6am on Wednesday.
Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said: "A very sad incident occurred at our store today in Hayden involving the death of a female customer.
"We are working with the Kootenai Sheriff's department as they investigate what happened."
The incident comes after a woman in Oklahoma was fatally shot by her three-year-old with a semiautomatic handgun.
Police said it appeared the child picked up the gun while his mother was changing a one-year-old's nappy, the Guardian reported.