According to The Guardian, at 10:20am on Tuesday Veronica Rutledge, age 29, was shot in the electronics department of the Hayden, Idaho Walmart. Her 2 year-old son, sitting in the front of a shopping cart, reached into her Rutledge’s purse, found her weapon and pulled the trigger.
Those who knew her described her as a gun lover, a motivated academic, and a successful nuclear research scientist. “She was a beautiful, young, loving mother who was taken much too soon,” Veronica Rutledge’s father-in-law, Terry Rutledge said. “She was out on what was supposed to be a fun-filled day with her son and nieces.”
While shopping with her son and nieces in the store, Rutledge carried a loaded small-caliber handgun zippered in a pocket in her purse. The purse was a Christmas gift from her husband, Colt Rutledge, one designed specifically for concealed carry.
“All the precautionary measures weren’t taken to ensure the safety of that weapon,” said Kootenai lieutenant Stu Miller.
Despite Miller’s comment, the Rutledges were reportedly experienced gun owners and shooters. Rutledge had a concealed carry permit, police said. Friends and family explained how she loved to hunt, shoot, and camp.
The problem is that the 2-year old son wasn’t an experienced gun owner or shooter. The handgun obviously did not have a lock on it at the time, and some more precautions about guns being so close to young children and only a zipper’s reach away need to be taken into consideration.
The Washington Post explains the aftermath of the event. Terry Rutledge, Veronica’s father-in-law, explains how both his son and grandson are not doing well.
“My son is terrible,” Rutledge said. “He has a 2-year-old boy right now who doesn’t know where his mom is and he’ll have to explain why his mom isn’t coming home. And then, later on his life, as he questions it more, he’ll again have to explain what happened, so we’ll have to relive this several times over.”
Rutledge isn’t just sad — he’s angry. Not at his grandson. Nor at his dead daughter-in-law, “who didn’t have a malicious fiber in her body,” he said. He’s angry at the observers already using the accident as an excuse to grandstand on gun rights.
“They are painting Veronica as irresponsible, and that is not the case,” he said. “… I brought my son up around guns, and he has extensive experience shooting it. And Veronica had had hand gun classes; they’re both licensed to carry, and this wasn’t just some purse she had thrown her gun into.”
This is all such an extremely sad thing that happened the day before New Years Eve. We wish the family will heal well, and that the 2 year-old child will learn to have peace with himself in his future and not blame himself for the accident.