Atlanta police arrested a mother Tuesday afternoon in the shooting of her 4-year-old son earlier in the day. The boy is in critical condition, police said.
Patricia Todd, 41, was charged with aggravated assault, tampering with evidence and cruelty to children, Officer Ralph Woolfolk said.
Woolfolk said the nature of the assault charge signaled that detectives believe the shooting was intentional, but he declined to say whether they believed the mom shot the child on purpose or accidentally. Georgia law defines aggravated assault in part as threatening someone with a deadly weapon, according to various legal websites.
“The definition of aggravated assault in the State of Georgia mentions intent,” Woolfolk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Investigators believe the actions of Miss Todd merit those charges at this time.”
Detectives interviewed Todd and found a gun in her southwest Atlanta apartment after her son was wounded, said Maj. Adam Lee, head of major crimes.
“It is going to touch your heart when you’re dealing with such a grave injury to such a young person,” Lee said.
Neighbors and relatives identified the boy as Jamari Todd and a 911 caller said he had been shot in the chest.
Police released few details Tuesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, Lee said that detectives were trying to determine whether the gunshot was accidental or self-inflicted.
Todd was interviewed at length while detectives tried to determine whether the mother and son were the only people inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, Lee said. He declined to describe whether Todd was cooperative in the interview.
The shooting happened around 11 a.m. in unit No. 7 of a one-story, cinder-block apartment complex at the intersection of University Avenue and Metropolitan Parkway near the Pittsburgh neighborhood, Lee said.
Neighbor Belinda Weems said she believed Jamari, his mother and her boyfriend had lived in the complex for several months.
Weems said she did not hear a gunshot — possibly because of the noise from her air-conditioning window unit — but heard the mother hollering.
“I didn’t know he was shot until the paramedics took him out,” she told The AJC.
The boyfriend was at his landscaping job when the shooting occurred, Weems said. She said her 9-year-old son plays with Jamari.
“They’re good people …. and he is a good little boy,” she said. “I don’t know what could have gone on. It is shocking to me.”
Robert Taylor, 49, said he had come to visit his sister Patricia Todd and learned of the shooting.
“I don’t know what happened,” Taylor told The AJC. “The police won’t tell me anything.”
Patricia Todd is scheduled to have her first appearance hearing at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
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