Christa Engles was shot by her toddler son at their Oklahoma home on Monday afternoon. The accidental shooting happened while the young mother was changing her infant daughter’s diaper in the living room of the family home. Her son found one of the guns in the home under the couch, and he accidentally shot his mother with it. The New York Daily News reported on this tragic story on Nov. 25.
Engles was home alone with her two children at the time the shooting occurred. Her mother and her husband also live at the Tulsa, Oklahoma residence, but neither of them was home at the time of the shooting. Her mother returned to the residence shortly after the shooting, and she found both of the children covered in blood, according to a neighbor’s account to a local news station.
Engles’ three-year-old only shot the family gun once, but that was all it took. The bullet went into Engles head. Police arrived immediately on scene, but the young mother was pronounced dead at the hospital 60 minutes after she arrived.
Her husband is a long-haul truck driver, and he was called about the shooting not long after it happened. He went to his Facebook to ask his friends to pray for Christa’s recovery. He returned to his Facebook on Tuesday to inform his followers about Christa’s death. Since then, he has continued to post messages on his Facebook page. He said the following in two of his Facebook messages:
“I lost my Wife to an accident yesterday. Don’t forget to tell your loved ones they are loved. You really never know when the last I love you really is the last. It’s a new day, it will be my first without you. I have so much on my mind but it doesn’t matter. I know you loved me, I worship the ground you walked on. I am the luckiest man alive, to have been able to love you. Since the day i met you you have been the best part of me. I love you Precious Angel.”
The gun the toddler found under the couch was just one of the many guns inside the home. Both Christa and Brian Engles were members of the military. Sgt. Dave Walker spoke about the incident to the media on Monday night, and he described the scene as the following, according to Tulsa World:
“The grandmother arrived home and found the victim along with the children inside the house. The victim was found in the front room of the house as if she was changing the 1-year-old’s diaper.”
The toddler did try to leave the home after the shooting. Police took him to be interviewed, and specialists confirmed that the young boy shot his mother. Police are calling the tragic death of Christa Engles a “horrible, horrible accident.” Police did not release the fact that Engles had died of her injuries until her husband returned home later that night. He and her mother are now in the midst of arranging for her burial.
Accidental shootings by children are not rare. However, data involving accidental shooting deaths by children have not been gathered yet. The Washington Post tried to locate this data earlier this year after a young Arizona girl accidentally shot a gun instructor. Jon S. Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said the following about this lack of data:
“We know how many times children die each year as a result of gun deaths. We don’t know how many times children pull the trigger and someone dies.”
The Centers for Disease Control revealed that they do not have this data either. A fact sheet shared by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence stated that between 2005 and 2010, 3,800 people were killed in unintentional shootings. That number is not broken down to shootings by children. However, the fact sheet also stated that a gun in the home makes a shooting 22 times more likely.
In this incident, the young boy found a loaded semi-automatic handgun under the couch. This is not the only incident like this that happens. This tragedy could have been avoided.