A 4-year-old boy killed his 3-year-old brother with a gun his mother kept near her bed for protection, officials said Sunday.
The accidental shooting took place Saturday in a house in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
The 29-year-old mother slept in the bedroom of her two boys Friday night because her husband was away on business, placing a handgun in the boys' night stand for protection, the department said in a statement.
She failed to remove the gun the next morning, and the children got hold of it. The mother was in the kitchen about noon Saturday when she heard a shot in the boys' bedroom.
She went there and found that her 3-year-old son had been shot in the side by his 4-year-old brother, the Sheriff's Department said. The boy was rushed to a local hospital, where he later died, it said.
The mother could face felony child-endangerment charges, the sheriff's department said.
The 4-year-old was taken into protective custody. The family was not identified.