WASHINGTON - An 8-year-old boy who shot a 7-year-old girl in the arm yesterday with a handgun he sneaked into a Germantown, Md., day care center in his backpack told classmates last Friday after a fight that he had easy access to guns, two law enforcement officials said.
The boy, a third-grader, had been suspended in the past for bringing a toy weapon to school, said the sources, who declined to be identified because the case is open. He was armed yesterday with a .38-caliber Taurus revolver that belonged to his father, a felon with a lengthy record, police said. The law enforcement sources said they do not believe that the shooting victim, a second grader at S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary, was involved in Friday's fight. It was unclear what the boy had planned to do with his father's gun, they said. But what ever his plans, they were cut short around sunrise as six children supervised by a female teacher were huddled around a television set watching Peter Pan at the daycare center.
The sources said the boy threatened to rob the girl and then shot the gun once, striking her in the upper right arm.
The boy's father, John Linwood Hall, 56, was arrested and charged with leaving a firearm within reach of an unsupervised minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of a firearm by a felon. His son, was charged as a juvenile with numerous counts that police declined to outline yesterday. The boy was placed in the custody of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, which provides counseling and treatment to delinquent juveniles. In charging the boy, authorities weighed the nature of the offense and the child's disciplinary history against his age, officials said.
"An innocent 7-year-old girl was shot in the arm inches away from her heart," Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler said. "In the final analysis, given this particular child's personal history, both at home and school, the decision was made that it would be in the best interest of this juvenile to be charged."
Minutes before 7 a.m., police received the call about the shooting at For Kids We Care Inc. which cares for children before the regular school day begins.
Paramedics rushed the girl to the sports field of her school, near the apartments, and about 7:35 a.m. a state police helicopter took her from the field to Children's Hospital in Washington D.C. She was reported in stable condition yesterday night. Her family could not be reached for comment yesterday.