TACOMA, Wash. -- A 3-year-old boy accidentally killed himself with a gun as another child sat next to him in a car, police in Tacoma reported Wednesday, the third recent shooting of a child in Washington state.
The car was parked at a gas station just after midnight Wednesday when the boy's mom got out to buy some items and her boyfriend went to fuel the car, leaving his gun inside, NBC affiliate KING5 TV reported.
Police believe the boy then got out of a car seat, grabbed the gun and shot himself. The man's daughter was also in the car, though she was not hurt.
The family, who have not been identified by police, is believed to be from the Tacoma area and the boyfriend does have a concealed weapons permit, KING5 reported.
Tacoma police spokesman Naveed Benjamin said the man had put his pistol under a seat.
Detectives called the shooting a tragic accident, Benjamin said.
The shooting follows the death of the 7-year-old daughter of a police officer in Stanwood, Wash., on Saturday when a sibling found a gun and fired while the parents were out of their car.
And on Feb. 22, an 8-year-old girl was critically wounded in a Bremerton classroom when a gun fired from the backpack of a 9-year-old boy as he put it on a desk.
"It's another tragedy in a very short period of time," Benjamin said. "It is incredible in light of the other ones. You would think people would take more care, not less."
"You can't predict what children are going to do," he added. "You need to unload and lock it up if you're not carrying it."
"And keep it out of the hands of children," Benjamin said. "It's really not that hard to practice firearm safety."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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