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Worker at thrift stores dies when gun in donated clothes goes off

A sign window Unique Thrift Store 9341 S. Ashlnotifies customers store is closed for day Friday after worker was shot

A sign in the window of the Unique Thrift Store, 9341 S. Ashland, notifies customers the store is closed for the day Friday after a worker was shot and killed by a gun that fell from donated clothing. | Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 9, 2014 6:13AM

A handgun found in a donated sock at a South Side thrift store accidentally went off Friday morning, killing a longtime employee and mother of two.

Family members have identified the woman as 54-year-old Carmen Dominguez.

Dominguez and another employee at the Unique Thrift Store in the 9300 block of South Ashland were sifting through donated clothing about 10 a.m. when the .22 caliber handgun went off, police said. The witness told police he found a sock with something inside, and emptied it into his hand.

Police said there was a .22 caliber handgun inside, which accidentally discharged while in his hand.

Dominguez, of the 6700 block of South 79th Avenue in Bridgeview, was shot in the chest and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn but was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m., the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said.

Anel Mendoza, Dominguez’s niece said she had worked at the thrift store for more than 25 years.

“She had just been promoted not too long ago because she had been with the company for so long,” Mendoza said. Dominguez was married and had two children, a 17-year-old girl and a son in his 30s, Mendoza said.

“She was definitely a family-oriented person. She was always there for us,” Mendoza said while crying. “She was such a good person.” At the store Friday afternoon, there was no sign of the tragedy, except for a handwritten closed sign on the door. A man inside the store refused comment.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified of the shooting and is investigating.

Police called the shooting “a tragic, accidental incident.”

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