- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Montgomery County police yesterday charged a Germantown man with knowingly giving a gun to a felon whose 8-year-old son brought it to a day care center Tuesday and, while playing with it, shot a 7-year-old girl in the arm.

Clyde Colmes Jr., of the 13200 block of Lake Geneva Way, has been charged with giving a .38-caliber Taurus revolver to the boy’s father, John Linwood Hall. Police said Mr. Colmes, 53, knew that Hall had a criminal record when he gave him the gun.

Mr. Colmes also was charged with participation in an unlawful transfer or sale of a regulated firearm and reckless endangerment. He surrendered to police yesterday and was being held at the Montgomery County jail last night.

The arrest comes a day after police charged Hall, 56, with leaving a firearm in a location accessible to a minor. Authorities also charged Hall’s son in the incident, but details of the charges could not be learned yesterday because he is a juvenile.

Authorities said that the boy took the revolver from a hatbox in his father’s closet and put it into his school backpack before going to the For Kids We Care child care center at 12648 Grey Eagle Court.

The girl was shot in the upper right arm. She was released from the hospital yesterday.

At Hall’s bond hearing yesterday, Assistant State’s Attorney Karyn McAuliffe argued that, although the boy pulled the trigger, Hall should be held accountable because “the day before, the father showed him how to cock the gun and how to load it.”

Public defender Samantha Sandler disagreed. “This man was not there. He has nothing to do with it,” she said. “This man is not a danger to society. The boy is a danger.”

Hall was initially charged with leaving a firearm accessible to a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Authorities yesterday filed two more charges — felony possession of a handgun and an illegal transfer of a firearm — against Hall.

Judge Mary Beth McCormick lowered Hall’s bond from $750,000 to $75,000. If released, Hall would be under police supervision.

During the hearing, Miss Sandler acknowledged that Hall has a criminal record, including several charges of assault, but she said he has been clean for 17 years, including the past 10 years when he was employed in maintenance at the National Institutes of Health.

Hall is scheduled to return to court for another bond hearing on the new gun charges today.

Meanwhile, Hall’s son appeared in Juvenile Court, where Judge Michael Algeo closed the hearing and advised court officials and lawyers not to discuss the case.

In the halls of the county courthouse, Hall’s sister, Darlene Hall, and two other relatives defended Hall yesterday.

They said the boy was hyperactive and that he could not be controlled by his mother, Debbie Shipp, who they say asked Hall to help. “It worked. He was calming his son,” Miss Hall said.

The boy and his mother lived in an apartment, two doors from the For Kids We Care center. Hall and his son slept in the boy’s bedroom. The .38-caliber Taurus revolver and bullets had been in a hatbox in the bedroom closet, investigators said.

But Hall’s family said it is not clear where the gun came from.

Hall’s relatives said the boy’s 15-year-old stepsister walked him to the center before 7 a.m. Tuesday. Miss Hall said the stepsister put a folder into his backpack and that she didn’t see a gun inside.

“That girl would’ve known if there was a gun in there,” Miss Hall said.

A spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Services, which has custody of the boy, said he will remain in the juvenile system. Agency spokesman Wendell Phillips would not comment on the boy’s case.

After the court hearing, Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said the boy intended to bring the gun to school, but would not say what he planned to do with it. Mr. Gansler said the boy did not intend to target the girl.

“He shot a 7-year-old girl, inches away from her heart,” Mr. Gansler told reporters. “The boy had a good knowledge of how the gun was used.”

The Washington Post reported yesterday that law enforcement sources had said that the boy threatened to rob the girl and then fired the gun once, striking her in the upper right arm.

The court proceedings are intended to place the boy in juvenile services, where he can continue his education and learn the difference between right and wrong, officials said.

“It is in his best interest to get the services he needs,” Mr. Gansler said. “Our major concern was that Mr. Hall should be removed from the presence of the boy.”

Miss Hall said her brother has been living with her in Gaithersburg, and hasn’t been in trouble with the law.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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