Germantown day-care shooting: Prosecutors paint picture of troubled boy


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Harry Tuttle
February 5, 2006, 11:07 PM
http://www.gazette.net/stories/020106/germnew204827_31898.shtml

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2006
The 8-year-old boy charged in the Germantown day-care shooting is a very troubled child from a troubled home life, prosecutors say.

Charges have been filed against the boy and two adults in the Jan. 24 incident that left a 7-year-old girl wounded in the arm.

Prosecutors have revealed chilling details of events leading up to the crime:

*The shooting happened after the boy demanded money from the victim.

*He was taught how to use the gun by his father the day before the shooting, and was planning to take the revolver to school.

*The boy attends a program for emotionally disturbed children, and has made several threatening and profane statements in the past.

‘‘Had he not shot that girl, the gun would have ended up in school and who knows what would have happened,” State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said following a court hearing last week.

The boy is charged as a juvenile with first-degree assault, first-degree assault while in possession of a firearm, reckless endangerment, possession of a regulated firearm by a minor, and possession of ammunition for a regulated firearm by a minor, police said.

Also arrested were the boy’s father, John Linwood Hall Sr., 56, of the 12600 block of Grey Eagle Court in Germantown, and a friend of the father. The shooting occurred just before 7 a.m. Jan. 24 at For Kids We Care Inc. on Grey Eagle Court in Germantown.

The boy has been in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Services since the incident.

Police charged the boy to ensure he would be placed in the juvenile justice system so that he could receive evaluation and other services, according Lt. Eric Burnett, police spokesman.

Officials with DJS are reviewing the case and will make a determination about how to proceed. They could forward the case to the state’s attorney for prosecution, decide to handle it internally or dismiss it all together.

During a hearing last week, Assistant State’s Attorney Karyn McAuliffe gave this account of the incident. The boy was handling the gun inside his backpack and told the victim to ‘‘Give me your money.”

‘‘What do you want,” the young girl was quoted as responding. ‘‘Nickels, dimes or pennies? I’m broke.”

The .38-caliber Taurus revolver, which was pointed at the girl, then discharged through the backpack. The bullet passed completely through the girl’s arm.

Gansler said he did not believe the boy intended to shoot the girl, but was taking the gun to school.

Police have determined that the boy retrieved the gun and five bullets from an unsecured container belonging to his father in his bedroom closet.

The boy, a third-grade student in a program for emotionally disturbed children at Cedar Grove Elementary School in north Germantown, has made several threatening and profane statements in the past, McAuliffe said. She did not elaborate.

McAuliffe also said the boy was indifferent when in custody, saying police couldn’t take any action against him because he is a child.

Prosecutors say that the boy’s father provided the boy with photographs of guns and violent video games, some of which involved shooting people and cutting their heads off, which the boy described as ‘‘no big deal,” McAuliffe said.

The day before the shooting, the boy’s father ‘‘actually explained to this 8-year-old boy how to fire this gun,” she said.

Darlene Hall, the sister of the boy’s father, said her brother did not teach the boy how to load and use the gun. She said the boy banged his hand on a desk during his juvenile hearing last week and said he learned how to use the gun from video games from rap artist 50 Cent.

Darlene Hall, of Gaithersburg, was present at the hearing, which was closed to the public by Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Algeo.

‘‘The little boy is a troubled child,” Hall said outside District Court in Rockville Thursday. ‘‘He’s on medicine. He’s just a tender age of eight.”

The victim

The girl, a well-liked second-grader at S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Germantown, was shot in the upper arm, just inches from her heart, prosecutors said.

She was flown by helicopter to the National Children’s Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and released from the hospital Jan. 25.

She celebrated her eighth birthday at home on Jan. 26.

Classmates made cards and planned to send them to her, along with a birthday cake, said McAuliffe Principal Lorretta Favret. It is unclear when she will return to school, arrangements have been made with the girl’s father to get schoolwork sent home.

The father

Hall was arrested the day of the shooting and was initially charged with leaving a firearm in a location accessible by an unsupervised minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and being a felon in possession of a firearm, police said. Two additional charges were filed the next day — being a felon in possession of a handgun and illegal transfer of a firearm.

For his bond hearing Thursday on the additional charges, Hall appeared in court via video-link. He disputed McAuliffe’s allegation that he had shown his son how to use the gun.

‘‘That is not true, that is not true,” he said repeatedly.

But Gansler said, ‘‘The evidence has suggested he was basically grooming [the boy] to have a propensity towards violence.”

Hall’s criminal record in Maryland dates to 1968. He has been convicted of three felonies, the most recent in 1972 for assault with intent to maim and use of a handgun during commission of a felony, according to charging documents.

‘‘When do you pay your debt to society?” Hall asked Thursday. ‘‘I’ve paid my time.”

He said he has been employed at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda for more than a decade.

Hall was released Friday from the Montgomery County Detention Center on a total of $125,000 bond. Conditions of his bond include no contact with his son.

During the hearing, Hall pleaded with the judge to lower his bond.

‘‘This is an accident, your honor,” Hall said. ‘‘I need my personal bond, your honor, so I won’t lose my child, your honor. I need my child.”

After the bond hearing, Darlene Hall said prosecutors are unfairly portraying her brother as a criminal.

‘‘I just want everyone to know he’s not the monster everyone is making him out to be,” she said.

The friend

The gun used in the shooting was given to John Hall eight years ago by the registered owner, Clyde Colmes Jr. of Germantown.

Colmes gave the gun to his friend for protection, police said.

Colmes, 53, of the 13200 block of Lake Geneva Way, is charged with three misdemeanors: participation in an unlawful transfer?sale of a regulated firearm, knowingly transferring?selling a firearm to a person convicted of a crime of violence and reckless endangerment.

Police said both men knew Hall was prohibited from legally possessing a firearm.

Colmes turned himself into police Jan. 25 and was released on $75,000 bond Wednesday.

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Standing Wolf
February 6, 2006, 09:31 PM
After the bond hearing, Darlene Hall said prosecutors are unfairly portraying her brother as a criminal.

He was a good boy until those evil mean wicked terrible awful horrible insidiously seductive guns led him astray against his will.

Crimson
February 8, 2006, 02:18 PM
Emotionally disturbed?!

He's Eight! Eight year olds are supposed to run around and hit each other and shout and not do what they're told.

middy
February 8, 2006, 04:49 PM
Eight year olds are supposed to run around and hit each other and shout and not do what they're told.
:scrutiny: Not in my house they're not. Oh, my 8-yr-old boy will do that from time to time (hit his little brothers, and/or shout, not do what he's told) but he gets punished for it. It happens less and less often. He only plays E rated video games which he earns time on by doing his chores. He'll be getting a BB gun for his birthday and will follow the safety rules or lose it.

Somehow I think this boy's home life is quite different...

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