Norris (Sandy) McDonald, a former Wheaton High School assistant principal who shot a handgun into a crowd of students near his home last October, was sentenced yesterday to one year on probation by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David Cahoon.
McDonald, 52, who pleaded guilty last month to the charge of simple assult, must report to a parole officer periodically during the year, and pay about $100 to Matthew Jones, the student whose arm was grazed by a bullet fired by McDonald.
McDonald, who is black, fired the gun into a group of students after several in the group shouted racial epithets at his daughters near their home a few blocks from the school. McDonald has said that he and his family were constant targets of racial slurs, and that "the wheel just fell off" the night he fired the gun.
At the time of the shooting, police charged McDonald with attempted murder, but last month McDonald pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of simple assult. The attempted murder charge was dropped as a result of McDonald's plea bargain with the state's attorney's office.
The simple assult charge will not be entered on McDonald's record unless he commits a crime during the year or violates the terms of his probation, according to Judge Cahoon. Under Maryland law, a judge can protect a first offender from having a crime on his or her record by sentencing the offender to "probation without verdict," meaning that the offender will not be declared guilty unless he commits another crime during probation.
"Probation without verdict is very common in Montgomery County," said a spokesaman for the state's attorney's office. "It's used for shoplifters and drug cases, and other crimes where the person is a first offender."
For the last several weeks, McDonald has been working on curiculum planning for the county school system in the main administrative office in Rockville. After the shooting, school superintendent Edward Andrews placed McDonald on administrative leave, with pay, from his job at Wheaton High School.
McDonald will continue to work in Rockville until the end of the school year, when school officials will decide whether McDonald will go back to working as a principal or continue his admininstratvie job in Rockville, a school spokesman said.
McDonald told Judge Cahoon he plans to move from his Wheaton home, where he has been a target of racial slurs and property vandalism by passing students and former students.