Moments before the alleged murder, neighbors heard screams coming from the home
A mother in Michigan is dead and her 9-year-old son is charged with her murder, according to multiple reports.
Authorities allege Pauline Randol was fatally shot by her son Monday morning at their Fawn River Township home, Fox17, WWMT and WOOD-TV report. The boy allegedly used a rifle and has been charged with open murder and felony firearms. He has not been identified due to his age.
Neighbors told Fox17 they heard screaming coming from the home minutes before deputies arrived at the scene.
“My wife and I both, when we heard that the woman was shot, we both looked at each other and said ‘I bet it was him,'” Joseph Lancaster told the station. “The little boy, because I have grandkids. I have one the same age and I’ve got smaller ones. And he would stand in the tree line over there and point his BB gun at him and shoot at them.”
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St. Joseph County Sheriff Bradley Balk said the boy is now undergoing psychiatric evaluations, WWMT reports.
Family told WOOD-TV that Randol’s body was found in the living room.
“I want people to know that he’s not a bad kid,” the boy’s sister, Harley Martin, told the station. “He loved his mom. I don’t want people to think he did not love his mom.”
She had adopted the child two years before and had expressed concern for his mental health and the safety of others.
“She had told her doctor one time she was so scared she was raising the next serial killer,” Martin said.
The boy reportedly has a history of mental health problems and was on new medication when the shooting occurred.
“He doesn’t know what he did. He doesn’t understand what’s going on right now at all,” Martin said. “He doesn’t understand why he can’t come home or anything.”
A neighbor told WWMT the boy was a second-grader at Congress Elementary School in Sturgis. Another mother from the school told the station that the child had threatened her 8-year-old daughter in 2018.
“He told her that he wanted to get a knife and stab her and watch her die, and watch her mother cry,” Alecia Pieronski said, WWMT reports. “My want was to remove him from the school and protect the children. I do feel in my whole heart the teachers and principals did everything they could do.”
She continued: “Maybe this a wake up call to other schools, when you have that troubled child screaming for help to do something.”
Sturgis Public Schools Superintendent Arthur Ebert called Randol’s death a “tragedy,” WWMT reports.
In a statement to WOOD-TV, the boy’s attorney, T.J. Reed, said it is “important to allow this case to properly move through the legal process and not to pre-judge this child based on partial or unknown facts.”
He continued: “Based on the severity of the charges and the age of the accused it is important to keep focused of the future and long term impact these proceedings and charges may have on a child of this age.”
PEOPLE’s calls to the school district, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office were not immediately returned Wednesday. Reed could not be reached for comment.