A co-worker on the Zoom call told the Altamonte Springs Police Department that they saw a toddler in the background of Lynn’s Orlando-area apartment and heard a noise. Lynn fell backward and never returned to the call, the co-worker told police.
“Shamaya Lynn … appeared to be in need of help,” police said in a news release.
When police and paramedics responded around 11 a.m., they found the 21-year-old with a fatal gunshot wound to her head. First-responders attempted to administer aid, but it was too late, police said.
Authorities soon pieced together what might have happened — and how the toddler got ahold of the firearm.
“Investigators determined that the injury was caused by a toddler who found a loaded handgun, which was left unsecured by an adult in the apartment,” police said.
The handgun belongs to the father of the victim’s two young children, WESH reported. The man in question has yet to be publicly identified.
Neither child was injured during the fatal shooting, police said. They are now in the care of relatives, according to WESH.
An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
Police are working with the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office to see whether charges will be brought against any person. Todd Brown, a spokesman with the state attorney’s office, told The Washington Post that prosecutors were unable to comment during an active investigation.
Police did not respond to a request from The Washington Post seeking to confirm Lynn’s relationship to the toddler and the owner of the firearm.
The unintentional shooting involving a child is the latest among thousands of such incidents in recent years. There have been at least 2,290 unintentional shootings by children since 2015, including 848 deaths, according to the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. There were at least 369 unintentional shootings by young people last year, with 142 deaths. This year, there have been 220 unintentional shootings involving minors, including 83 deaths.
In February, Gabriel Alexis Henderson, a 25-year-old mother of five in North Carolina, was killed after one of her children found a gun in her purse and accidentally fired, police said. In April, Royal Gordon, an 8-month-old boy in Houston, died after his 3-year-old brother found and fired an unsecured gun.
Altamonte Springs Officer Roberto Ruiz Jr. said at a news conference that police will provide a lock to any gun owner who does not own one for their firearm. He said police hope people will step forward and lock up their guns to help prevent another accidental fatal shooting involving a child.
“If you own a firearm, please keep it locked and secured,” Ruiz told reporters. “Incidents like this could be avoided.”