CHARLOTTESVILLE -- The mother of an emotionally disturbed boy who held police at bay with a shotgun said she knew she could end the standoff because she knew the weapon did not work.
"I knew I could calm him down, and I knew the gun was broken," Kathy Douglas said late Friday night after her son had locked himself in the house with a 20-gauge shotgun.
No shots were fired and no one was injured in the incident, which lasted less than an hour. Charlottesville Police Sgt. Francis G. Upman said Donnie Douglas, 11, would not be charged.
"I told him later, 'You could be laying here on the floor,' " Kathy Douglas said. When her son said the gun didn't work, she replied, "You know it, and I know it, but the officers didn't know it."
At the suggestion of the family's social worker, Donnie was committed to the DeJarnette Center, a state facility for the mentally handicapped in Staunton.
Kathy Douglas returned home from a brief errand to find the dead-end street to her house blocked off. Ignoring police cautions, she ran up to the house. She unlocked the door, and with an officer's help, coaxed and pushed Donnie back when he tried to put his weight against it.
Two 16-year-old girls temporarily minding the children Douglas baby-sits with had fled the house with the children, including Donnie's two sisters. The older girls dialed 911 from a neighbor's house.
Douglas said doctors diagnosed her son as having Tourette's syndrome when he was 4. He takes three medications for the condition, which causes him to twitch and grunt involuntarily. "Tourette's children are super impulsive, hyperactive, aggressive," she said.
Douglas and her husband put Donnie in residential care when he was 5. His school, Grafton, in Berryville, had closed for its annual three-week vacation last week.
The Douglases tried to make the house as safe as possible for his visit, Kathy Douglas said. They own other guns, but they took them to a relative's house. They locked their hunting knives in a car trunk.
The broken gun was stored in the couple's bedroom because they thought it couldn't hurt anyone, she said.
Sometimes the boy hugs his baby sister too tightly, Douglas said. He wanted to hug his sister Cory Friday, she said, and one of the older girls wouldn't let him.
In his frustration, he got the gun and threatened to shoot, she said.
Donnie will stay at the DeJarnette Center until Grafton reopens later this month.