Call to police preceded fatal shooting Man said he felt threat from suspect

March 27, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

An hour before Marine Cpl. Andre D. Boone was shot to death at the Columbia home of James Milton Harding Jr. last week, another man called Howard County police and said he felt threatened by Harding, who had a gun in his house.

A Howard County police spokesman said yesterday that police responded to such a call but did not go to Harding's home, where Boone was shot soon afterward. Harding has been charged in the slaying.

Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman, said police responded to a call from Sean Mease, 26, by going to his home in the 9300 block of Hickory Limb in east Columbia's Owen Brown village.

Police said Mease told them that he had been at Harding's home, in the 10100 block of Goodin Circle in east Columbia's Kings Contrivance village, where he felt threatened by Harding and saw a shotgun on the living room floor.

Police did not go to the Goodin Circle address, where, barely an hour later, Boone, 23, was found shot to death.

Keller said Mease told police that he went to the Goodin Circle home Friday afternoon at Harding's request to discuss money. Mease told police that when he arrived at Harding's house, he saw a the 12-gauge shotgun next to a chair.

Police said Mease left Harding's house and called police from his home, saying he feared Harding would come to his house with the gun.

Keller said yesterday that because Mease told police Harding had neither pointed the gun in his direction nor threatened him, there was no crime to investigate.

"Even if the officer had driven directly to the [Harding] house, no threats had been made and no crime had been committed," Keller said.

"Just because a person has a gun doesn't give us the authority to take the gun," he said.

Reached at his house yesterday, Mease refused comment.

Boone, who had recently earned a White House post, was found shot in the neck and was dead on arrival at Howard County General Hospital shortly after 2 p.m. Friday. A 1992 graduate of Howard County's Hammond High School, he entered the Marines in 1994.

Harding, a former Maryland state trooper who was fired in 1994 after 18 months on the job, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He was being held at the Howard County Detention Center without bail.

Police said Harding resigned from the Howard County Police Academy in July 1989 but would give no further details.

A friend, Ronald Braddy, said that Harding left the academy two weeks before graduation to take a security job that paid more. He joined the state police later.

Keller said police had responded twice before to domestic calls at the Harding home, in August and January. No charges were filed in either incident.

Police released no further details of those incidents.

Boone's death was Howard County's first homicide this year, Keller said.

Pub Date: 3/27/97

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