The father of a 3-year-old boy who accidentally shot his mother to death in a Chicago suburb has been detained and will likely face gun charges, the community’s police chief said Monday.
Dolton Police Robert Collins Jr. said investigators were working with prosecutors from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to determine the exact charges but that there was no indication that he fired the weapon or even knew the boy was holding the weapon at the time of Saturday’s shooting.
“We do not have anything to indicate that the dad fired the weapon so the avenue we are pursuing is that the gun was his responsibility,” Collins said of the father whose name has not been released. He added that he expected charges would be filed by Monday night or Tuesday morning.
Collins said investigators have already determined that the father legally owned the weapon but did not have a conceal carry permit he would have needed to carry it in the vehicle.
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The shooting happened around 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Police said the family was sitting inside their car — the father in the driver’s seat, the mother in the passenger seat and the boy in a car seat in the back — outside a Food 4 Less store in the community about 20 miles south of Chicago when the boy found the weapon.
“He somehow got ahold of the gun and began playing with it in a playful manner, pointed the gun and fired the shot,” Collins said. A bullet struck 22-year-old Daejah Bennett in the neck, the chief said. She was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Collins said detectives conducted what is called a forensic interview with the child. A person who specializes in talking to children interviewed the boy and during that interview, “The child said he was the one who fired the gun,” he said. “We are confident he fired the gun.”
“This is just such a tragedy,” he said.