Girl, 7, Shot By Boy, 8, at Day Care in Montgomery

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

An 8-year-old boy who shot a 7-year-old girl in the arm yesterday with a handgun he sneaked into a Germantown 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 at Cedar Grove Elementary, 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 whatever 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 day-care center.

The sources said the boy threatened to rob the girl and then fired 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 F. 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 rents a unit at the Northlake apartments in the 12600 block of Grey Eagle Court. For Kids We Care 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 the District. She was reported in stable condition last night. Her family could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The sound of the helicopter was the first indication McAuliffe Principal Loretta Favret had that something was amiss.

"I turned on the TV and saw it was happening here," Favret said. Within minutes, she learned from school system supervisors who the shooting victim was.

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