Woman shot by toddler called a responsible gun owner
(KXLY.COM) HAYDEN, Idaho – Veronica Rutledge is being called a responsible gun owner by those who were closest to her a day after she was shot and killed inside the Hayden Wal-Mart, the trigger accidentally pulled by her two year old son.
Rutledge was a mother, wife, a chemical engineer and an outdoors woman. However Tuesday her life was cut tragically short when her son got into her purse, found her 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield semi-automatic pistol and fired a single shot, striking her in the head and killing her instantly in front of Veronica’s three young nieces as well as other Wal-mart shoppers and employees.
The store’s manager, who was nearby when the pistol was fired, stepped over and took the pistol from the toddler, according to Lt. Stu Miller with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office. The manager and other employees quickly secured the shooting scene and evacuated the store.
Veronica’s father-in-law and Brandi Grover, one of her former co-workers, have both called her a responsible gun owner who had a concealed weapons permit and had taken multiple gun safety courses.
“She knew what she was doing, she was raised around guns, she had taken classes on gun safety, it wasn’t like it was just thrown in her purse,” Grover said.
Even her purse – reportedly a Christmas present from her husband – was specifically designed to carry a concealed weapon.
Sharp Shooting Indoor Gun Range does sell these types of purses and, at a first glance, it may look like your average leather purse, but inside there’s a specific compartment designed to hold a concealed weapon. However these purses, even though specifically designed for this purpose, may not be the safest option for carrying a gun.
“Certainly we talk to our students about dressing for the firearm, so you can always have it physically on your body,” Sharp Shooting owner Robin Ball said. “Occasionally a purse is going to be a necessity because there’s no way to carry it, but the reality is the safest bet is on your body.”
Ball said this tragedy will help continue the dialogue of safe gun storage.
“If you keep a firearm in your purse, your purse has to be off limits, all the time, you don’t pull kids’ treats out of it, kids can’t know whats in there, it has to be yours and yours alone,” she said.
Rutledge’s family and friends hope she isn’t remembered as an example of what or what not to do with guns, but rather for who she was: a brilliant, caring woman whose young son was her pride and joy.
“She was a fun loving person, very caring, very smart, she knew what she was doing and its just tragic that something like this could happen with someone who knows so much, and there’s just some things in life that are out of control,” Grover said.