Police: Toddler finds mom's handgun, discharges, injures 11-year-old sister

- Police want to know how a toddler was able to discharge a gun at a restaurant, injuring the young child’s 11-year-old sister Sunday afternoon. Now, the mother faces charges.

“There were three children and the mother. There was an infant child, there was the mother, the 2-year-old and an 11-year-old who is our victim,” said Newnan Police Lt. Tate Washington.

The children were eating lunch with their mother at "Number 1 Buffet," located in the 1700 block of Newnan Crossing Boulevard, when, according to police, the 2-year-old found his mom’s 9mm handgun in her purse while the mother was distracted.

 “The child had been crawling in and out of the booth, under the seat, coming up to the mom, going back to his chair, eating a bite, getting back down, coming back over, coming back out. At some point he was able to get the gun,” said Lt. Washington.

Lt. Washington said the gun didn’t have a safety, and the toddler was able to fire off one round. The bullet hit a screw inside the holster which ended up striking the 11-year-old girl in both of her legs. But emergency responders first thought the injuries were due to the bullet.

“It was not a bullet, but it was a machine type screw. Investigation further revealed the screw came from the holster the gun was in,” said Lt. Washington.

Newnan police said they have never had a case like it.

"Down at the very bottom of this is a screw, probably an inch and half long that’s what the barrel goes over,” Lt. Washington said as he showed News Radio 106.7’s Christy Hutchings an image of what the holster looks like.

The girl remains listed in stable condition at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. She is expected to recover from her injuries.

“It could have been a lot worse. You never know where a bullet is going to go. There could have been any number of patrons that could have got struck. The child could have got struck somewhere else, her injuries could be a lot more severe,” said Lt. Washington.

Newnan police said they will charge the mother, Jennifer Cotton, with a single count of reckless conduct.

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