BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — The Baltimore County Police Department issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for a 57-year-old man shot by his wife at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest, D.C. on Thursday. James Weems Jr., of Randallstown, Maryland, faces multiple charges stemming from allegations that he abused at least three children while working at his wife's day care facility, according to police.
James Weems Jr. was allegedly shot by his wife, Shanteari Weems, in an eighth-floor hotel room on July 21 after she confronted him about accusations of child molestation she had heard from children, parents and teachers at the Lil Kids Kastle Daycare Center, which she owns. He was working at the day care as a bus driver for the last two years.
Baltimore County Police said they have been investigating since the beginning of July.
"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.
The Owings Mills day care facility remains closed as police continue to investigate the allegations.
James Weems is facing 13 child abuse counts, including first and second-degree sex offenses and displaying obscene material to a minor.
Police arrested Shanteari Weems at the Mandarin Oriental 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!"
James Weems Jr. shouted that she'd shot him in the head and leg, and she allegedly responded: "Shut the f up… I will kill you!"
In a kind of diary, police say they found inside the room, Shanteari Weems said it was multiple calls from parents and teachers about the alleged abuse that set her off, according to a supplemental charging document. She apologized to the children and wrote out what police said was an informal last will and testament. In court documents, police say she told them she hadn't wanted to kill her husband, just wanted to hurt him, but she said she did want to kill herself.
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."
Shanteari Weems is being heralded as a vigilante hero on social media. Advocates are sending messages on Twitter and TikTok using #FreeShanteari, with some asking how they can contribute to her legal defense. At least a dozen supporters crowded into a virtual courtroom at D.C. Superior Court Monday in hopes of seeing Shanteari Weems released pending trial.
"She's placed complaints to the proper authorities before... and her cries for help went unanswered," said Qiana Johnson, of a group called Harriet's Wildest Dreams, which is led by former organizers of Black Lives Matter DC.
Shanteari Weems' lawyers were granted a continuance in the case due to the amount of discovery evidence, and her preliminary hearing is slated for Friday morning.
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.
James Weems Jr. retired from the Baltimore City Police force in 2005 and had been working as a contract specialist until 2008. On his LinkedIn profile, he lists himself as an executive protection agent.
"If you expect to find sympathy for him, no, nobody feels sorry for him," Scherr said of neighbor reactions to the news. "[He's] a retired cop."
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.