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Esther Callejas, a 24-year-old mother living in Phoenix, Az., shot and killed her 2-year-old daughter on Thursday, as well as injuring her 6-year-old son. Authorities arrived to apprehend the Arizona mom, and her two children were sent to the hospital. The younger daughter was pronounced dead, but her 6-year-old son survived.
Neighbors and loved ones are now questioning what happened, after it was revealed that police had been to apartment just two weeks prior to the shooting. According to NBC News 12 in Phoenix, Esther Callejas’ husband, Emmanuel Isidro, was worried for the children’s safety and called the police on Sep. 14 to check on them.
Police arriving on the scene reported that the family was not at home, and it remains unclear why her husband had alerted them or believed that they would come to harm at the time. Reached on the phone later that day, Esther Callejas told authorities that her and the two kids were fine.
It wasn’t until Monday, Sep. 27, that officers returned to the scene to find Esperanza Isidro, her 2-year-old daughter, dead with a gunshot wound. According to the police reports, Esther Callejas called her husband, as well as her sister-in-law, to tell them that she had shot and killed her two kids.
Her 6-year-old son survived and is recovering in a nearby hospital in critical condition.
According to The New York Post, the woman was on anti-depressants and in a really bad place mentally. In an interview with police after the incident, she reportedly said that she “wanted them to go to heaven.”
“She did admit to shooting her children,” Phoenix Police Spokesman Sergeant Ann Justus told People. She said officers were left “shaken up.”
“You can imagine, something nobody should have to see our officers see it again and again,” Sergeant Justus said.
When police arrived on the scene, she was cradling her dead 2-year-old, while her six-year-old lay crying with a gunshot wound by her side.
Court documents allege that Esther Callejas planned on killing herself after shooting the children, but instead choose to swallow a bottle of pills when she could not reload the gun properly.
Esther Callejas is expected to be charged with one count of first-degree murder of her 2-year-old daughter, and one count of attempted murder of her six-year-old son. Esther was also injured in the incident when she accidentally shot herself in the hand as a practice shot, court records revealed, alleging that it was a “”non-life-threatening injury.”
Margarita De La Cruz, a neighbor on the same block as the family, was shocked, telling NBC News 12 that as far as she knew, “she loved her kids.”
“You could tell, they were well dressed, not mistreated,” she told reporters. “Only she knows what she must have been going through, poor her.”
Neighbors said that they had heard she was dealing with mental illness and/or depression, but that they didn’t think it was anything drastic that would have escalated so dangerously.
The local Arizona Republic news outlet reported that Callejas bought the gun secretly a few years ago, even successfully hiding it from her husband, Emmanuel. She allegedly hid the handgun in a trailer parked near their side yard, and then moved it to a drawer in the children’s room right before the shooting.
“I just can’t imagine,” said Kara Wood, a neighbor who lives two houses down, “because it’s a baby, both of them were babies.”
Her medication was new, as she had only recently been to the doctor with her husband after coming out about her thoughts of depression.
Esther Callejas is currently being held in Maricopa County, with her bail set at $2 million.