PHOENIX - A Phoenix mother who shot her 10-year-old son with an airsoft gun said she had to do it.
Estelle Ullmer needed to teach her son a lesson. "Guns aren't toys, period," Ullmer said. "I told him to get rid of it."
Ullmer, who lives with her son near 15th and Peoria Avenues, was scared of the possibility of a police officer mistaking the gun for a genuine firearm, and shooting her son.
An airsoft gun shoots plastic, round projectiles. The force of the round can be enough to leave a mark.
So, to teach him the seriousness of guns, she took the gun and shot him with it, once in the leg and once in the neck.
She said she discovered the gun after she had repeatedly ordered her son to get rid of it. He refused to throw it away, Ullmer said.
"I didn't [shoot him] to be malicious or mean," Ullmer said.
Authorities found the incident serious enough to charge Ullmer earlier this week with felony child abuse.
Officials did not remove Ullmer's son from her custody.
Her son is now "scared to death" that she will go to prison, Ullmer said.
Tears streamed down her son's face while he hugged his mom Thursday night. He told ABC15 that he learned his lesson, and no longer wants a toy gun.
His old gun was thrown away "in a million pieces," Ullmer said.