The mother of a 13-year-old mentally disabled boy remained in jail Wednesday, one day after the boy accidentally shot himself.
Shallon Sales was charged with aggravated child neglect and has a $50,000 bond set. But her family says she is a good mom and will learn from the near-tragedy.
Sales' niece, Sherrice Brown, said the boy was left alone for only about 20 minutes while his mother went to buy school clothes.
Family members said the bullet shattered in the boy's arm. He was treated and released from the hospital and his arm is in a cast, the family said.
Brown said the family nickname for Sales is "Care Bear." She said Sales has custody of a 2-year-old, not her biological child, who functions well and is potty-trained.
And Brown said the fact that Sales' 13-year-old autistic son functions well enough to call the police and communicate that he shot himself is testament that she works with him. Some autistic children don't communicate as well, she said.
But police were suspicious from the moment a caller reported being shot by a man in a black ski mask. Then the boy told police the "ice cream man" had shot him.
Finally, the boy admitted he accidentally shot himself with a gun owned by his "stepdad," who is actually his mother's boyfriend.
The child told police he was worried about getting in trouble and did not want anyone to go to jail so he made up the story about the ice cream man.
Police said the boy could not spell his name or give them his mother's full name, her phone number or her whereabouts. Later, police said, the mother confirmed the child has a mental disability.
While the boy was at the hospital, Sales and her boyfriend, Jessie Ridley, arrived separately. Sales said she didn't know anything about a gun in the house, but said people she didn't know had been coming and going. Ridley said the only weapon in the house was his Lorcin .22-caliber.
But after Sales, whose name is on the lease, signed consent to a search, police recovered three handguns, two of them loaded and one stolen. They also found drug paraphernalia and drugs, including marijuana and unmarked pills in Sales' bedroom and atop a bookshelf by the front door.
Police said the presence of drugs and loaded weapons in the house, coupled with the child's disability and the lack of supervision, constituted probable cause to charge Sales with aggravated child neglect
But Brown said her aunt doesn't do drugs and that if police test Sales, they will find no drugs in her system.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.