CHICAGO — A 54-year-old woman died after a gun accidentally went off as she sorted clothes in a Washington Heights thrift store Friday morning, authorities said.
The incident occurred about 9:40 a.m. inside the Unique Thrift Store, 9341 S. Ashland Ave. in Washington Heights.
Authorities said the woman, identified as 54-year-old Bridgeview resident Carmen Dominguez, was with a co-worker sorting clothing at the store. The other worker emptied the contents of a sock into his hand and discovered it was a .22-caliber handgun.
The gun accidentally fired as the man held it, striking Dominguez in the chest, police said. She was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where she was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Friday afternoon, Dominguez's husband, Victor Campos, came to the store with police officers to pick up his wife's jacket.
He said Dominguez, of suburban Bridgeview, had worked for the Unique Thrift company for almost 25 years.
"I can't believe it," Campos said as he clutched his wife's jacket in the store's parking lot Friday. "I'm still in shock."
Campos voice shook as he said his wife of 17 years used to complain about the working conditions at the store.
"They make them work too fast in there," he said.
Employees of the store refused to comment, but a company spokeswoman said late Friday Dominguez's death was a "tragic accident."
"We are extremely saddened about the tragic accident in our Ashland store that resulted in the passing of one of our valued team members," said Sara Gaugl, spokeswoman for Unique Thrift Stores. "Our thoughts and hearts are with her family and friends during this very sad and difficult time."
The incident is being considered an "accidental discharge," according to Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman. Area South detectives are investigating the shooting, but police said Friday the death appeared to be "a tragic, accidental incident."
Agents for the U.S. Labor Department were also at the store Friday afternoon to investigate the incident.