Life of promising Marine ends in Columbia shooting Stepfather is charged with 1st-degree murder

March 23, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Marine Cpl. Andre D. Boone, who was shot to death at his family's Howard County home Friday, had a bright future in the Marine Corps and had recently earned a coveted post as a noncommissioned officer assigned to the White House.

Boone's stepfather, James M. Harding Jr., 39, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after the shooting, which took place in Harding's home on Goodin Circle in Columbia.

It was Howard's first homicide this year, county police said.

Harding is a former Maryland state trooper who was "found to have violated administrative policies and state criminal laws" and was fired in June 1994 after 18 months on the job, said Capt. Greg Shipley, state police spokesman.

Sgt. Glenn Hansen, a Howard police spokesman, said an argument between Boone, 23, and Harding "immediately preceded" the shooting, but he offered no details about the argument. Police also said the two men were the only people in the house when the shooting occurred.

Boone, a 1992 graduate of Hammond High School in Columbia, entered the Marines in 1994 and was stationed in Washington.

He was a stage crewman for the U.S. Marine Band, the president's official band, which performs at White House functions, according to Chief Warrant Officer Joe Boyer, a Marine Corps spokesman.

'We regard it as a tragedy'

But Boyer said Boone was recently cleared to serve in the White House, a key protocol assignment that involves standing guard near the president and other heads of state.

"It's something that only a Marine with a very good record who was well-regarded by his superiors would be qualified for," said Boyer. "We regard [his death] as a tragedy. We have lost a member of the family."

Boone was also remembered by neighbors and coaches as a hard-working, pleasant young man who kept in touch after leaving for military service.

One neighbor on the quiet cul-de-sac, near Kings Contrivance restaurant, said: "He was a great kid. When he came home on breaks, the kids would play basketball with him. I just want

people to know that this was not your average shoot-'em-up in the city."

Jack Burke, who coached Boone in varsity basketball at Hammond for two years, said: "He worked hard at what you asked him to do. He had the same mental toughness and other characteristics they would look for in the Marine Corps."

Sports star

Track was Boone's best sport in high school. His coach, Pete Hughes, said yesterday that Boone was a team captain who placed second in the state in the 110-yard hurdles and was a member of the varsity team for four years.

"He was always a gentleman," said Hughes, who saw Boone last year when he visited the school.

Boone's brother, Damon, is a senior at Hammond High, neighbors said. Andre Boone is also survived by his mother, Lnet Harding, and a younger sister.

No family members could be reached for comment.

Pub Date: 3/23/97

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