Published:December 1, 2022
A 10-year-old Milwaukee boy intentionally aimed a gun at his mother, then shot and killed her, because she would not buy him a virtual reality headset, prosecutors said.
The boy initially told police that the Nov. 21 shooting was an accident, according to criminal charges obtained by the Journal Sentinel. But later he said he intentionally aimed at his mom before shooting her. The boy was charged as an adult last week with first-degree reckless homicide.
Wisconsin law requires children as young as 10 to be charged as adults for certain serious crimes, though the boy’s attorneys can seek to move the case to juvenile court. The boy, who family members said has mental health issues, is being held in juvenile detention.
“This is an absolute family tragedy,” said Angela Cunningham, one of the boy’s attorneys. “I don’t think anybody would deny or disagree with that … The adult system is absolutely ill-equipped to address the needs of a 10-year-old child.”
The shooting occurred shortly before 7 a.m. on Nov. 21. According to the complaint, the boy initially told officers he got the gun from his mother’s bedroom and went to the basement where she was doing laundry. He said he was twirling the gun around his finger when it went off. The boy was allowed to stay with family, and an initial release from police says the shooting was caused by a child “playing” with a gun.
A day later, concerned relatives called police.
The boy’s aunt said that when she picked up the boy, he retrieved a set of house keys that contained a key to the gun’s lock box. When his aunt asked about the shooting, the boy said he pointed the gun at his mom, and that 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 and ordered an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset the morning after she died. That same morning, he physically attacked his 7-year-old cousin.
Relatives said the boy has a history of disturbing behavior. When he was 4, he swung the family’s puppy around by its tail, the complaint says. Six months ago, family told police, the boy filled a balloon with a flammable liquid and set it on fire, causing an explosion that burned furniture and the carpet. Relatives recalled that when asked about that, the boy said he hears five imaginary people talking to him.
After learning these new details, Milwaukee police interviewed the boy again. This time, he told detectives he aimed the gun at his mom with two hands while in a shooting stance. He said he tried shooting a wall to “scare her” when she walked in front of him and he shot her, the complaint says.
The boy told police he got the gun from the lock box that morning because his mother woke him up early — at 6 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. — and because she wouldn’t let him buy something on Amazon.