Thursday, January 26, 2006

An 8-year-old boy who shot a 7-year-old day-care classmate in the arm had made previous threats of violence involving guns, including shooting police and killing another person, prosecutors said yesterday.

The boy was influenced by a violent video game given to him by his father and was introduced to guns by his father, prosecutors say.

John Linwood Hall is accused of showing his son how to operate a .38-caliber handgun the night before the firearm was discharged at the day-care center. He is charged with several crimes, including leaving the gun in a closet within reach of his son.

“The father was basically grooming the son toward having a propensity for guns,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler.

During a bond hearing on two of the five charges he faces, Hall adamantly denied that he was responsible for the shooting and that he taught his son about the gun.

“This was an accident,” he said, appearing by closed-circuit television from the county jail.

District Court Judge Louis Harrington set a $50,000 bond for Hall on two gun charges, which will be added to the $75,000 bond set Wednesday for counts that include being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Another man, Clyde Colmes Jr., faces charges of illegally providing the gun to Hall.

Prosecutors argue that the boy, who has not been identified because he is a minor, carried the gun to the For Kids We Care day-care center in Germantown in his backpack Tuesday morning. They say he confronted the girl while holding the gun inside the backpack, telling her to “give me your money.”

The girl replied, “What do you want, nickels, dimes or pennies? I’m broke,” according to a statement read by Assistant State’s Attorney Karyn McAuliffe during the hearing yesterday. The gun then went off, firing through the backpack and wounding the girl in the arm.

Mr. Gansler said the boy did not intend to shoot her.

The girl was flown to Children’s Hospital in the District. She was released Wednesday.

Mrs. McAuliffe also read other violent statements she said the boy made before the shooting. They included a threat to shoot at the police and discussions of decapitation. She said he also discussed a plan to kill someone, saying, “Phase 1, get weapons. Phase 2, kill the hillbilly.”

Hall has a lengthy criminal record dating to 1968, including felonies that make it illegal for him to possess a gun. But at his hearing, he said he had been punished enough for those crimes.

“When do you pay your debt to society?” he told the judge. “I did my time for those.”

Hall’s family said that the boy is “troubled” and that his father is being unfairly punished.

“They are trying to make my brother out like a monster, and he’s not,” said sister Darlene Hall.

In response to the shooting, police yesterday encouraged county residents to take advantage of a program allowing each of them to obtain up to two free gun locks. The locks are being distributed at county police stations, police headquarters and municipal police departments in the county.

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