Jul 30, 2014
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Mother Mistakes Small Gun for Cigarette Lighter, Daughter Wounded

Rachel Avila, 30, of Banning, thought the .22-caliber North American Arms "derringer style" revolver was a cigarette lighter, police said. She pulled the trigger twice, the second time the gun fired, and the round ricocheted off the ground.

Mother Mistakes Small Gun for Cigarette Lighter, Daughter Wounded Mother Mistakes Small Gun for Cigarette Lighter, Daughter Wounded

A 12-year-old girl was wounded by a ricocheting bullet Sunday evening in Banning, when her mother fired a tiny pistol she mistook for a cigarette lighter, police said.

Banning police described the incident as an accidental shooting. A photo of the revolver was released Wednesday by Banning police.

A "juvenile gunshot victim" was reported about 5:40 p.m. Sunday and officers responded to the emergency room at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, Banning police said in a statement.

Rachel Avila, 30, told police she and her 12-year-old daughter, both of Banning, were talking with friends in front of their mobile home in the 100 block of North Phillips Avenue when Avila found what she thought was a novelty cigarette lighter, police said.

The lighter resembled a miniature firearm and it was lying on the ground, Avila told police.

 Avila picked it up and tried to light it by pulling the trigger, police said.

The first time Avila pulled the trigger, nothing happened. The second time she pulled the trigger, a .22-caliber bullet was fired, police said.

"The bullet struck the ground, and then ricocheted upward and entered her daughter’s upper right arm," the police statement said.

The girl was taken to San Gorgonio Memorial, where she was treated and released, police said.

The weapon Avila said resembled a cigarette lighter was identified as a North American Arms .22-caliber "derringer style" revolver, police said.

Derringers are among the smallest, potentially deadly handguns made.

The case remained under investigation late Tuesday, police said.

The police department advised caution to anyone who finds an object resembling a firearm or a suspicious device.

"Do not handle the object and call local law enforcement for assistance," Banning police said.

Sgt. Alex Diaz said, "We're tying to find out who the gun belongs to, so we're looking into that. At this point it is considered an accident."

Diaz urged anyone with information about the gun to contact the Banning police Detective Bureau at (951) 849-1194.

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