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Judge denies bail for day care owner who allegedly shot her husband over child abuse allegations

Shanteari Weems, who is being heralded on social media as a vigilante hero, was charged with assault with intent to kill.

WASHINGTON — A woman who alleges she shot her husband inside a D.C. hotel room after she heard he had been sexually abusing kids at the day care center she owns was ordered to be held in jail Friday. Supporters of Shanteari Weems, who is being heralded as a vigilante hero on social media, swore and shouted at Judge Sherry Trafford, demanding that she be released. 

Shanteari Weems wept quietly as dozens of supporters inside the courtroom and watching online yelled, "Free Ms. Weems!;" "Makes no sense, she's not a danger to anyone!;" and "This is America, you're supposed to care about the youth!"

But DC Superior Court Magistrate Judge Trafford found probable cause to believe Shanteari Weems brought a gun to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on July 21 and shot her husband, James Weems, in the neck and thigh. 

"Whatever decision-making process Ms. Weems was engaging in gives me great concern regarding her ability to make decisions rationally, in a way that protects the community and individuals around her," the judge said.

Her lawyer is now suggesting the shooting was justified. 

"She went down there asking him what happened,"  attorney Tony Garcia said. "He went from zero to 1,000. He came at her and she defended herself."

RELATED: Arrest warrant issued for man shot by wife at DC hotel, accused of sexual abuse of children

James Weems Jr. was allegedly shot by his wife, Shanteari Weems, in an eighth-floor hotel room after she confronted him about accusations of child molestation she had heard from children, parents and teachers at Lil Kids Kastle Daycare Center. Her husband, a retired Baltimore City police officer, had been working at the daycare as a bus driver for the last two years. The Owings Mills day care facility remains closed as police continue to investigate the allegations.

Shanteari Weems was arrested and charged her with assault with intent to kill after staffers responded to a smoke alarm in Room 853, and saw blood on the wall. When police tried to get in, they say she screamed: "If you come in, I'm going to shoot myself." And when they asked about her husband, she yelled, "F him—he's a child molester!" Her husband shouted that she'd shot him in the head and leg, and she allegedly responded: "Shut the f up… I will kill you!"

Metropolitan Police Det. Andrew Gong testified that investigators found a bullet hole in the hotel room wall and two guns in the room -- one in an open safe, and the other in a black handbag. He said Shanteari Weems was licensed to carry a handgun, and James Weems worked in executive protection and was known to be armed. Det. Gong said one round went through Weems' neck, the other was lodged in his thigh. 

Garcia said Shanteari Weems has spent a decade working as a corrections officer and 15 years building her daycare business, and had never been in trouble before. 

"This is somebody who has lived her entire life obeying the law, helping others, and most of all raising and protecting children," her lawyer said. 

Others said the focus should be on the alleged abuse of children involved in the case. 

"If Ms. Weems was a white man, she'd be home right now," supporter Afeni Evans, of Freedom Fighters DC, said. "Her husband hurting children should be the focal point of the conversation we should be having."

Kathy Scherr said she knows parents who sent their children to Kidz Kastle and owns her own business within eyesight of the daycare. 

“Everyone knows she shouldn't have taken the law into her own hands ... but her whole entire business is gone," Scherr said. "Her reputation is gone, her marriage is gone, those kids are hurt. She obviously cared about them, so who knows, if it was one of us, what you'd be driven to."

RELATED: Supporters cram courtroom for woman accused of shooting husband at swanky DC hotel

Police said James Weems Jr. is still hospitalized in D.C. receiving treatment for his shooting injuries. He is in police custody and will be extradited to Baltimore County, where he faces 13 child abuse counts, including first and second-degree sex offenses and displaying obscene material to a minor.

"At least three victims have come forward at this point regarding allegations involving Mr. Weems," Joy Lepola-Stewart, spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Police, said.

Baltimore County Police and DC Police are investigating the case jointly with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services. Families with any information about Weems are asked to contact Baltimore County detectives at 410-307-2020. 

According to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), 1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before they turn 18. Parents can find resources for discussing sexual assault with their children here.

RELATED: Woman alleges she shot her husband because he was molesting kids at her day care business, court documents say

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