MILWAUKEE (AP) — A 10-year-old Milwaukee boy intentionally pointed a gun at his mother, then shot and killed her because she wouldn’t buy him a virtual reality headset, prosecutors said.
The boy initially told police the Nov. 21 shooting was an accident, according to criminal complaints in the Journal Sentinel. But he later said he purposely took aim at his mother before shooting her. The boy was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter as an adult last week.
Wisconsin law requires children as young as 10 to be charged with certain serious crimes as adults, although the boy’s attorneys may attempt to take the case to juvenile court. The boy, who was said by family members to have mental health problems, is in juvenile detention.
“This is an absolute family tragedy,” said Angela Cunningham, one of the boy’s lawyers. “I don’t think anyone would deny or disagree with that… The adult system is absolutely ill equipped to cater to the needs of a 10-year-old.”
The shooting happened just before 7 a.m. on November 21. According to the complaint, the boy initially told officers he retrieved the gun from his mother’s bedroom and went down to the basement, where she was doing laundry. He said he was twisting the gun around his finger as it went off. The boy was allowed to stay with his family, and an initial police discharge says the shooting was caused by a child “playing” with a gun.
A day later, concerned relatives called the police.
The boy’s aunt said when she picked the boy up, he retrieved a set of house keys, which included a key to the gun locker. When his aunt asked about the shooting, the boy said he pointed the gun at his mother and she told him to put it down.
The boy’s aunt and sister said he never cried or showed remorse. They also said he logged into his mother’s Amazon account the morning after her death and ordered an Oculus virtual reality headset. That same morning, he physically assaulted his 7-year-old cousin.
Relatives said the boy had a history of disruptive behavior. When he was 4 years old, he swung the family puppies around by the tail, the complaint says. Six months ago, the family told police, the boy filled a balloon with a flammable liquid and set it on fire, causing an explosion that burned the furniture and carpet. Relatives recalled that when asked about it, the boy said he heard five imaginary people talking to him.
After learning these new details, Milwaukee police again questioned the boy. This time, he told detectives he had two hands aimed the gun at his mother while in a firing stance. He said he tried to shoot at a wall to “scare” her as she walked in front of him and he shot her, the complaint says.
The boy told police he got the gun out of the locker that morning because his mother woke him up early – at 6am instead of 6:30am – and because she didn’t allow him to buy anything on Amazon .
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