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10-year-old Wisconsin boy kills mom after she refuses to buy him VR headset

MILWAUKEE – A 10-year-old boy from Milwaukee deliberately pointed 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 he later said he deliberately aimed at his mother before shooting her. The boy was charged last week as an adult with reckless first-degree homicide.

Under Wisconsin law, children as young as 10 must be charged as adults for certain serious crimes, though the boy’s lawyers may try to move the case to juvenile court. The boy, who according to family members has psychological 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… The adult system is definitely not equipped to meet the needs of a 10-year-old child.”

The shooting took place shortly before 7 a.m. on November 21. According to the complaint, the boy initially told officers he took the gun from his mother’s bedroom and went to the basement where she was doing laundry. He said he was twisting the gun around his finger when it went off. The boy was allowed to stay with family, and an initial police release 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 that when she picked up the boy, he picked up a set of house keys that contained a key to the gun’s safe. 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.

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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 assaulted his 7-year-old cousin.

Relatives said the boy has a history of disruptive behavior. When he was 4, he swung the family’s puppy around by his 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 furniture and the 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 questioned the boy again. This time, he told detectives that he pointed the gun at his mother with both hands while he was in a shooting position. He said he tried to shoot at a wall to “scare her” when she walked in front of him and he shot her, the indictment says.

The boy told police he took the gun out of the safe that morning because his mother woke him up early — at 6:00 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. — and because she didn’t want him to buy anything on Amazon.

Copyright 2022 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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