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Child finds loaded gun in bathroom at Wal-Mart

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Weapon's owner charged in wake of girl's discovery

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A girl found a loaded gun in a Wal-Mart bathroom last month, according to Frederick County authorities.

Now the owner of the firearm stands accused of recklessly leaving the firearm for a child to find.

A deputy charged Tammy Renea Costello, 49, of 802 Enfield Drive, Winchester, with one count of recklessly leaving "a loaded, unsecured firearm so as to endanger the life or limb of a child of less than 14 years old. The charge is a class 3 misdemeanor. The offense is a class 1 misdemeanor if the child is under the age of 12.

Deputy S.A. Moore responded to Wal-Mart on U.S. 50 west of Winchester on March 26 for a report of a loaded firearm found in a women's restroom. Store employee Seth Flickinger's 12-year-old daughter found the firearm on top of the toilet paper dispenser, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case in Frederick County General District Court on Monday.

"[Flickinger] had her retrieve it and turn it over to him, then he turned it in to the customer service desk," the complaint states. "The firearm, a .38-caliber Taurus ultra lite revolver, was loaded when it was found."

Costello returned to Wal-Mart to try to locate her gun and was told it had been turned over to the Sheriff's Office, according to the complaint. Costello went to the Sheriff's Office headquarters, showed proof of ownership and the gun was returned to her.

"She said she dropped her purse and all of the contents spilled onto the floor and she didn't notice the gun was missing until she was nearly home," the complaint states.
Moore served Costello the summons Saturday afternoon.

While the firearm did not discharge, according to the court documents, accidental shootings have resulting in hospitalization and death.

The Virginia Center for Vital Statistics reports eight children under the age of 18 died in unintentional firearm-related incidents between 2006 and 2009, the latest year available, according to Stephanie Goodman, injury data and evaluation coordinator with Division of Prevention and Health Promotion in the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Family Health Services.

During that same period, the state saw 79 youths hospitalized for unintentional firearm-related injuries, including 20 in 2009 alone. Of the total between 2006 and 2009, 56 percent of the hospitalizations were for children ages 14-17, Goodman states, citing a patient database from Virginia Health Information Inc.

Data from both sources includes only those Virginia residents who die in the state or are hospitalized in a non-military or non-veteran's facility.

Data does not include those injured and seen by hospital emergency departments, doctors' offices or urgent care clinics, according to Goodman.


The next time a child finds a set of car keys in a bathroom, will the NVD please give us the satistics of how many time children have been injured, because of the neglence or the oversite of the car owner.

First of all, if the contents of her bag fell on the floor, and she didn't miss it till she got home, how did it get on the toilet paper dispenser? They usually have hooks on the door for your purse, and it should have been in a zippered section if she had to have it with her.

The article did not say, but I would think she had a concealed carry permit?

"While the firearm did not discharge, according to the court documents, accidental shootings have resulting in hospitalization and death."

This is so incredibly poorly written that I can't begin to explain it to you. I might recommend remedial classes, if I were your employer.

"During that same period, the state saw 79 youths hospitalized for unintentional firearm-related injuries, including 20 in 2009 alone."

That strikes me as pretty reasonable. Of course ideally it would be zero, but your chances of getting struck by lightning are probably higher.

This is the best possible thing that could have happened in this situation. The child reported the gun without touching it, no one was hurt, and the lady learned the dangers of carrying off-body. Maybe she'll consider an ankle holster, or an IWB holster depending on her attire.

I am aghast at your comparison of finding car keys in a public restroom to a child finding a loaded gun in the restroom! Seemingly, you consider both matters trivial. What the heck is wrong with people anymore? Would it have been more newsworthy had the child who found the loaded gun been injured or worse?

There is alot of uncertains in this story, an awlful written report on the reporters behalf. I can't believe the sheriff's dept. returned the weapon to this woman especailly without arrestting her for wrecklious indangerment of a loaded firearm. I'm a ccw carrier and I know where my firearm is at all times and I don't do anything stupid that would endanger anyone else, especailly lose my firearm where a small child or anyone else is going to be able to get ahold of it. What would this woman have done if a criminal minded person would have found her gun and went out and committed a crime or killed someone then left it behind for the police to find then she would have a lot of explaining to do on how her gun got used to kill someone and why she didn't report it missing before hand, that should have been the first thing she done as she was returning to wal mart to see if it had been found this whole story sounds to fishy and full of holes.

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