Jan. 25, 2006 â€”*An 8-year-old boy and his father face charges in a shooting at the For Kids We Care day-care center in Germantown, Md. The victim will be released from the hospital today.
John Linwood Hall Sr., 56, who owned the gun, will be arraigned today. Under Maryland law, it is a misdemeanor to store a gun where an unsupervised child can access it. According to police, the boy found the gun in a container at Hall's home. Hall, who has a criminal record dating back nearly 40 years, could face a $1,000 fine.
Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler said he could not discuss the charges against the boy because he is a juvenile, but Gansler said police wanted to bring the boy into the system to provide him with treatment.
"There was great concern about the boy," Gansler said. "We do not do the charging. The police do that, and they took into account several factors. First the severity of the crime â€¦ but they also looked at the boy's history and what would be in his best interest. The police felt it would be in his best interest to charge him because, that way, he'll be turned over to juvenile services and hopefully get the treatment and counseling he needs."
Maryland is one of 19 states with laws against storing a gun where a child can reach it. The Medical Journal of Pediatrics estimates that roughly 1,400 children are killed by firearms each year. The victim was shot in the arm when the boy was handling a .38-caliber Taurus revolver
inside his backpack. She is expected to fully recover.
"It was an in-and-out shot," Gansler said. "That's better for her than having to go through major surgery. Three inches to the left and she would have been dead."
A 2002 University of North Carolina study found 36 percent of gun owners with young children in the home reported keeping a firearm loaded; 50 percent of them failed to lock the weapon or store the ammunition in a locked box.
Gansler said that, although Hall did not know that his son had the gun that day, he could be charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years and a mandatory sentence of five years.
"We think his son was familiar with guns. He has been taught how to use guns by his father based on statements he made prior to the shooting," Gansler said. The boy had been previously suspended for bringing a toy gun to day care and was in a fight last Friday. Gansler said the boy knew he had a gun with him and had plans for the gun that day, although he did not say what the boy's intentions were.
The shooting happened at 7 a.m. while the children were watching "Peter Pan" before they went to school.
The girl's family released a statement. "This is a harsh reminder that we can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of our children. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that guns are kept unloaded, locked and out of children's reach to prevent incidents like this. This happens too often to innocent children."