HYATTSVILLE, Md. - A 12-year-old boy fatally slashed a man who was attacking his mother at the boarding house where they lived, authorities said.
Salomon Noubissie, 64, died at a hospital after he was slashed across the neck Monday night in the home in the Landover area.
Cpl. Diane Richardson, a spokeswoman for Prince George's County police, said Wednesday that authorities hadn't decided whether the boy would be charged with anything. They were reviewing the case with the state's attorney's office.
The boy said he had been playing a video game Monday night when he heard his mother, Cheryl Stamp, scream. He found her on the kitchen floor, straddled by a fellow resident who was choking her.
"I kept saying, 'Stop! Stop! Stop!'" the boy told The Washington Post, which published his account without giving his name. "But he just ignored me. He didn't stop. He just kept hurting her."
The boy said he took a knife and swung at the man. Police say they found Noubissie with a knife wound to the upper body.
Stamp said she didn't fully realize at first what her son had done. "He didn't say anything," she said. "But I knew when I looked in his eyes. I said, 'Oh, Lord.' "
Rarely is a 12-year-old implicated in a homicide, and even less often does a child that age kill someone to protect his mother.
"In Maryland, there can be a legitimate defense of third parties in the event of a violent attack," State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey told the newspaper. "That is a possibility in this case."
Stamp said she and Noubissie, a Cameroonian immigrant, had moved into the boarding house within days of each other three months ago and had become friends. Stamp said Noubissie had told her he was studying to be a psychiatrist.
But on Monday night, she said, he was acting differently. He started to yell at her and grab her hair.
"He threw me down and started choking me. I think that's when my son came in. ... He protected me," she said.
Noubissie was combative with officers when they arrived, even as he was bleeding heavily, she said.
The boy said he was not happy with what happened but felt he had no choice.
"I told God that I had stabbed him because he was killing my mother. I know he understands, and I think he will keep us safe now."