SALT LAKE CITY – Utah police want to find the owner of a loaded gun found on a baby changing table in a women's restroom at a suburban Salt Lake City aquarium, but said they don't plan to file charges.
Rather, they want to return the .380-caliber pistol found Tuesday.
"I believe it was somebody that just forgot their gun. But, you know, it's not an uncommon occurrence," Draper Police Lt. Chad Carpenter told the Deseret News . He said that people often leave guns in bathrooms and other places.
Parents who came to the Living Planet Aquarium with young children were angry that no one would be held accountable.
Alyssa Fujimoto said she found the weapon and called police when she tried to change her newborn baby with her 4-year-old son in tow.
"My child who came in with me, he usually opens the changing table for me, and this time, he was using the restroom while I went in. So I went to open it, and if it would've fallen, it was loaded, who knows?" she told the Deseret News.
Fujimoto said the gun left atop the folded-up table was a "tragedy waiting to happen" and charges should be pressed because the owner was negligent.
Police said she did the right thing when she found the weapon.
"If anybody finds a firearm anywhere, (don't) touch it, call police, keep other people away from it, and wait for police to come," Carpenter said.
Meanwhile, another mother, Crystal Mundt, told the Salt Lake Tribune that she rushed out of the bathroom with her two children when she saw the gun and another woman on the phone calling 911.
"You don't expect to have to do a weapons sweep before entering a bathroom adjacent to a child's play area," Mundt told the newspaper. She called it "unbelievable" that a loaded gun could be unattended without even a citation.
The aquarium posts signs forbidding weapons, but it's unclear whether the policy is legally enforceable, Carpenter said. Concealed weapons are allowed in places like public schools in Utah.
"I would appeal to our representatives to hear this story and to work toward greater gun safety legislation, if there's nothing we can do to bring charges against this person," Mundt said. "People that leave guns accessible to children should be held accountable."