A woman who shot her husband after he was accused of sexually abusing children says she isn't sorry.
"I will apologize when he apologizes to those children," Baltimore child care center owner Shanteari Weems, 50, told WUSA9 in an exclusive March 10 interview from the Correctional Treatment Facility in Washington, D.C.
Shanteari Weems was sentenced to four years in prison for shooting her husband James Weems Jr., a retired Baltimore police officer, in July 2022, following accusations that he sexually abused children at Little Kidz Kastle in Owings Mills, Maryland.
James Weems, a former employee at his wife's child care center, is charged with 33 counts of rape and child sex crimes, according to Baltimore County Circuit Court records. His trial is scheduled to begin in May. TODAY.com reached out to James Weems' attorney, who declined to speak about his case.
Shanteari Weems' attorney, Joseph W. Fay, tells TODAY.com that she was indicted on aggravated assault while armed, as well as other charges. She pleaded guilty to aggravated assault without the "while armed" enhancement, and carrying a pistol without a license.
Fay says Shanteari Weems is not appealing her case but rather, "We have a motion for reconsideration," he says. "We're asking for the judge to reduce the sentence to what the government requested in the plea agreement," which was no more than two years.
Shanteari Weems told WUSA9 that she believed in her husband's innocence until she spoke to the mother of one of her students.
"I saw the pain in her face and I knew that she was not lying," Shanteari Weems told the broadcaster. "She finally said it was my husband."
"I was totally broken," added Shanteari Weems. "I felt like the blood had just drained out of my body because, again, this was my husband. I trusted him fully. He was supposed to help me protect these children. He always told me (that) he was my protector. So when I heard this, I felt like my world had just ended."
Shanteari Weems told WUSA9 that she texted her business partner, "I'm going to kill him and then myself," then drove to the former Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington D.C., where James was working an event. In a private room, Shanteari confronted her husband and shot him in the neck and thigh.
According to a news release sent to TODAY.com from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., the July 22, 2022 shooting took place around 7:40 p.m.
"The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries," the department release said.
"I snapped," Shanteari Weems told WUSA9. "I'm not a violent person."
The scene in the hotel room was "kind of like a fire," said Shanteari Weems. "He was fuel, I was fuel. We poured that fuel in a fire and it just blew up. We got to arguing, fussing and one thing led to another."
According to a United States Department of Justice press release, after Shanteari Weems shot James Weems, she "barricaded the hotel room by placing her back against the door, preventing officers from coming inside. After approximately 25 minutes, officers forced entry and apprehended the defendant."
"A search warrant was obtained and executed in the hotel room," the release continued. "Inside, officers found Weems’s firearm in her purse and a note written by Weems evidencing her intent to shoot the victim." Fay tells TODAY.com that Shanteari Weems had written in her journal that she did not intend to kill James.
Shanteari Weems told WUSA9 that while she regrets the incident, she was not ready to extend grace to her husband, from whom she filed for divorce in February.
"I think about all the children all the time," Shanteari Weems told WUSA9.
Shanteari Weems acknowledged the #FreeShanteari social media hashtag, circulated by her supporters.
"Despite my surroundings, I'm doing OK," she told the outlet. "I have a lot of supporters, people who uplift me and help me survive."
Shanteari Weems told WUSA9 that she wants to start a non-profit organization to combat child abuse.
"I'm definitely going to make a great batch of lemonade from these lemons I've been dealt."