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Parents of teen fatally shot by Maryland state trooper say they are ‘shattered’

Peyton Ham, 16, was fatally shot Tuesday by a Maryland State Police trooper in Leonardtown. (Family photo)

A day after their son was shot and killed by a Maryland state trooper, the parents of 16-year-old Peyton Alexander Ham said in a statement that their family is “absolutely heartbroken and shattered over this sudden, unexpected loss of life of a talented young man, filled with promise.”

Ham’s parents said the teen was “smart, gifted” and “sweet” with an “ ‘Alex P. Keaton’ type personality.”

“His love of conservative politics [was] always taking center stage to his lively debates at the family dinner table,” his family said.

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Few additional details have emerged about the interaction between Ham and police that led to his death Tuesday afternoon in the Leonardtown area of St. Mary’s County, where the teen lived with his family. The name of the trooper who fatally shot Ham has not been released, but state police said he was assigned to the Leonardtown Barrack and had been a Maryland state trooper for two years and seven months.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, state police said that a trooper responded to Hollywood Road at about 1:30 p.m. after authorities received two 911 calls from a male caller who did not identify himself but said there was a “guy acting suspicious” who appeared to have a gun.

A trooper arrived in the area and confronted Ham in the driveway of a home in the 23000 block of Hollywood Road. Ham had what police said they later learned was “an airsoft gun that is a close representation of an actual handgun” and a knife. On Wednesday, state troopers released images of the airsoft gun and the knife.

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A witness to the shooting told police that Ham was in a “shooting stance” in the driveway, according to authorities, and pointed the airsoft gun at the trooper, who fired at Ham and injured him.

A different witness told police that Ham then pulled out a knife and tried to get up, authorities said. Police said the trooper told Ham to drop his knife, then shot the teen again.

Paramedics were called to the scene and Ham was transported to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, where he died.

In their statement, Ham’s family said the teen was a high school honor student who had hopes of attending college, then law school, then serving his home state of Maryland in the legislature. He enjoyed analyzing the Baltimore Orioles with his grandfather, from whom he had learned to love baseball, and often experimented in the kitchen with his mom.

Ham was accepted into the St. Mary’s Public County Schools Global International Studies program, and his family said he was an “avid history enthusiast.” He was selected as the “prosecutor” for a major case on his school’s mock trial team.

His parents, Michael and Kristee Boyle, and birth father Jason Ham Haight, said in the statement that Ham “loved his family, siblings, cousins very much.”

“Words cannot express the gratitude our family is feeling with the overwhelming love and support being extended by our friends and family in our amazing community,” the family said.

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