A two-year-old girl is fighting for life after she shot herself in the chest when she found a pistol abandoned in a kindergarten playground by a fleeing gunman.
The tot, named only as Ava, was in the daycare playground in Las Vegas, Nevada State, USA, when she picked up the dumped handgun on Friday, 3rd November.
Without realising what she was doing she pulled the trigger and sent a bullet into her chest missing her heart by just three centimetres.
Family friend Tawnya Rosenthal told local media Ava’s parents were devastated by the shooting.
She said: “They didn’t even know what exactly happened other than their child was shot.
“I mean, nobody expects their two-year-old to be shot. This was completely a senseless act.”
Rosenthal told how the bullet went through Ava’s lungs and passed through her body just an inch from her heart.
She said: “She was shot three centimeters from her heart.
“It completely punctured one of the lobes of her lung, so it is definitely a rough and rocky procedure.
“They have had to put her in a medically induced coma.”
Ava had already had a series of operations to stabilise her condition and surgeons hope her body can recover from the trauma as it rests in a coma.
Rosenthal said: “Ava is currently waiting to see if they are going to do another surgery.
“They found a blood clot in her lungs, and so they are watching that to see if they are going to need to do surgery.
“No child should have to have that, that is a big battle for such a little baby.”
Amanda Palacios, whose toddler is one of Ava’s classmates said: “I was shaken up, because it easily could have been my son.
“I was scared to bring my child, naturally. I wanted to keep him home, but knew I had to bring him to get him back into a routine, and get myself into a routine.
“But I’ve called and checked on him, and they’ve been great letting me know that he’s okay, he’s doing good.
“It could happen anywhere. It could’ve happened at my school, it could’ve happened with us walking into a store.”
Police say the gun had been thrown into the playground by 16-year-old Tshaun Rucker, who’d earlier been involved in a shooting on a bus.
Rucker, reports local media, has been arrested and is facing charges of attempted murder, three counts of discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle, and child abuse.
Ava’s family has organised a GoFundMe fundraiser that has so far collected USD 8,700 (GBP 7,095) out of its USD 20,000 (GBP 16,312) goal to help meet medical bills.
Rosenthal said of Ava’s parents: “They are emotional, but they are a strong and resilient people.
“Their main concern right now is of course financially, because they are going to be here for weeks, if not months, while she is being treated and cared for.”