Miss Villescas pictured with her son. (Facebook)
Miss Villescas pictured with her son Facebook

A three-year-old boy shot his heavily pregnant mother after discovering a handgun in her purse.

The boy was in a motel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his mother, Monique Villescas, father, Justin Reynolds, and two-year-old sister, when he discovered the firearm in his mother's purse, while searching for an iPod, said police spokesman Simon Drobik.

The child pulled the trigger of the gun, shooting his father in the buttock, with the bullet travelling through his hip and striking his mother, who is eight-months pregnant, in the arm.

The pair were rushed to hospital. Mr Reynolds has been released, while Miss Villescas is believed to be in a stable condition, reports KOB 4.

The shooting occurred at around 2pm local time (9pm GMT) on Saturday, 30 January, in a room at America's Best Value Inn near Menaul and University, where the family had been living as they prepared to order pizza.

"It was like if I was to get up shake your hand and sat back down. That's how fast it happened. All of a sudden we heard a gun go off," Mr Reynolds told KOB 4.

"The next minute I realised my girlfriend was bleeding. Then I sat down and realised I was shot too. I was more worried about my girlfriend than myself and anything else that was going on.

"And my son, because I didn't know if he had shot himself or not. He was shocked and crying."

Albuquerque Police Department officer Simon Drobik told the Albuquerque Journal that the parents will likely be charged with criminal negligence over the incident.

"The child did the damage, but it was because of the negligence of the adults that the child was able to do this," he said. "If you are going to be a gun owner, you need to lock it up and keep it safe."

Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the Brady Center, which advocates tighter gun controls, said the incident highlighted the need for parents with firearms in their homes to ensure they could not be accessed by children.

"This incident in Albuquerque serves as a reminder to all parents to keep guns locked away securely. It is also a reminder for parents to raise concerns and awareness about the dangers of unsafe access to firearms with friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. We can all help ensure that children do not come across an unsecured gun by asking, "Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?" Our collective efforts with parents across the United States can help prevent future tragedies," he said.