DELTONA, Fla. - A 30-year-old Deltona woman was arrested Monday afternoon after a 3-year-old boy grabbed her loaded gun and shot out the window of a car parked at a church school, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.
Abbie Maldonado had the toddler in the car with her when she drove to the Good Shepherd Academy on Howland Boulevard to pick up her son from school shortly before 3:45 p.m., Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson said.
"Maldonado got out to walk around and left the boy unsecured in the back of the vehicle with the rear passenger door propped open so she could keep an eye on the child," Davidson said.
Maldonado told investigators she was walking in the parking lot with some other parents when she heard a loud bang, deputies said. She said she didn't immediately realize it was gunfire.
"She went to the vehicle to check on the child and then walked around the parking lot some more," Davidson said. "Maldonado then returned to the vehicle and took the child into the school to go to the bathroom, still not realizing anything was wrong."
When Maldonado returned to her car, she said she heard glass crackling and noticed the front driver’s side window shattered, Davidson said.
Deputies said Maldonado walked toward the front of the church to see if anyone had seen someone by her vehicle, and upon returning to the vehicle, she noticed that her loaded gun wasn’t in the driver’s side door pocket where she had left it.
"It was on the front seat," Davidson said. "Maldonado told deputies that she normally keeps the gun locked in the trunk."
Maldonado received a valid concealed-carry weapon permit from the state last month, deputies said.
Maldonado's boyfriend picked up the children, and she was arrested and charged with child neglect. She was freed from jail after paying bail.
No one was injured in the incident.
"I'm like shaking right now to think that... just a child to grab it. Thank God he didn't get hurt," said parent Mary Justino.
The Department of Children and Families told Channel 9's Mike Springer that it's investigating the incident.
The principal of Good Shepard released a statement Tuesday that read in part: "We are thankful to God that no one was injured. We coordinated our response with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and corrective action was taken.
"This is a reminder that accidents do happen and we encourage everyone to exercise caution and extra responsibility especially on school grounds where so many children are present. We encourage parents to never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Any suspected violation of Florida gun statutes on school property will be immediately reported by Good Shepherd Academy to Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. "
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