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NEW CASTLE, Ind. — A New Castle woman and her boyfriend were charged with several counts of domestic battery and neglect of a dependent after police investigated claims of the couple shooting five children with airsoft guns as a form of punishment.

Police began investigating in December of 2022 after a student at New Castle Middle School told a nurse that Maresa Kunze, 30, and her boyfriend Joseph Bonar, 25, would shoot the student and her four siblings to discipline them.

Court documents state the nurse found bruises on the student’s back and feet in various stages of healing.

When questioned by a Department of Child Services worker, Kunze said the children all had airsoft guns and would shoot each other with them when playing. She said she disciplined the children by having them do wall sits for five minutes at a time.

The children (aged 12, 9, 9, 7, 5) were then medically checked out and interviewed by a DCS case worker.

One child told the case worker she and her siblings would go “airsofting” every weekend to cope with the trauma of their dad dying. The child also said Bonar or Kunze have both shot the five children at least once to punish them.

The same child said it feels “terrible” to get shot, and she and her siblings had been shot before for not doing chores. She then said the children are only shot when they are “bad-bad” and after giving several warnings.

Another child told the case worker, “We play Fortnight and PubG with BBGuns, cuz it’s like a coping skill to help with the anger against our dad’s death of COVID,” claimed court documents.

The child said he was accidentally shot in the foot during the latest “airsofting” outing.

A DCS worker told police she overheard the child tell Kunze after the interview that he “told them what you told me to say.”

The other children also said they were sometimes injured while playing with the airsoft guns, although the case worker noticed two children hesitated when asked if they were coached on what to say.

Police were provided pictures of the children’s feet, legs, backs and arms and noted “dozens of injuries to the tops and bottoms of their feet, ankles, arms, chest and back.” Some injuries were described as “fresh,” while others were healing or scarring.

“It should also be noted that in the photos, the children’s feet appear to be very dirty, discolored, and unclean.”

Probable cause affidavit

During Kunze’s interview, she also claimed to police that the children’s injuries were from playing with their guns at the park, but upon further questioning, she admitted the children were shot at as a form of punishment.

Kunze also told police shooting the children was Bonar’s idea, and they only did it as a last resort when the kids were acting “extremely out of line.”

Bonar admitted to police that he shot all five of the children with an airsoft gun to punish them. He told police Kunze never tried to stop him.

Kunze and Bonar were both charged with five counts of neglect and domestic battery.

All five children were taken into DCS custody.