A Charles County man, who police say was angry with his neighbors for installing a security light that shone on his property, was arrested yesterday and charged with fatally shooting his neighbor's 2-year-old son and critically wounding the boy's father, authorities said.
Police began looking for John A. Booth Jr., 55, Tuesday morning shortly after they discovered Michael A. Meadows and his son, Will, both shot in the head and lying in the family's wrecked Dodge pickup truck not far from their home in rural Southern Maryland.
The child died at 11:20 a.m. yesterday at Children's Hospital, a few hours after Booth pulled over to the side of Interstate 95 and turned himself in to Virginia State Police in Prince William County, authorities said. The boy's 32-year-old father remained in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center, a hospital spokesman said.
Booth has been charged in Prince William County with being a fugitive from justice and is expected to face a magistrate this morning to determine his extradition to Charles County, where the sheriff's office said he faces charges of murder, attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment.
Booth lives next door to Meadows and his wife, Tara, and detectives are investigating whether an ongoing dispute over a security light Meadows had installed led to the shooting.
According to an application for a peace order that Meadows filed Monday, the light shone on an adjacent field that Booth owned, and in retaliation, he would drive his van close to the property line late at night, turn on his high-beam lights and continuously honk the horn.
Booth also fired a .22-caliber rifle in the general direction of the Meadows home not long before Tuesday's shooting, court documents state.
The petition had been set for a hearing in District Court on Monday. If granted, it would have prohibited Booth from contacting the Meadows.
Meadows, an electrician, and his son were shot as they drove along a dirt road called Booth Place that leads to their home and Booth's property, authorities said. Meadows lost control of the truck and ran into a pine tree, knocking it over some time before 8:15 a.m., authorities said.
Neighbors described Booth as intensely protective of his land. Ed Stewart, 67, a retired county employee, said Booth would often take a rifle and range through the woods surrounding his old two-story house, shooting at targets and warding off trespassers.
Booth's family has lived on about 200 acres of land in Bryantown since the turn of the 20th century, and the Meadowses, who bought their home three years ago, were, as one neighbor put it, the first "newcomers."