No charges to be filed in death of teen-ager White Marsh shooting by friend ruled accidental

October 08, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

No charges will be filed in the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy by a younger playmate Aug. 20, Baltimore County prosecutors said yesterday.

"It was an accidental shooting -- no one is disputing that," said S. Ann Brobst of the Baltimore County state's attorney's office in describing the death of John Joseph Price.

The decision prompted John's parents, John and Carol Price, to renew their call for more stringent state laws to protect children from guns.

"Our focus is on strengthening Maryland's child-access law," said their attorney, John A. Pica Jr., a former state senator who introduced several gun-control bills during his 19 years in the legislature. "The law is designed to protect children from the irresponsible acts of adults."

Maryland's law on restricting children's access to guns "failed in every sense to protect this family," Pica said.

The Prices have joined an activist group, Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, to call for an amendment that would make leaving a handgun accessible to a child a felony, punishable by as much as five years in prison. Under current law, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine.

The shooting occurred in a townhouse near White Marsh, where John and three younger friends gathered one afternoon shortly before the beginning of the school year. The townhouse was occupied by a man who had rented a single room to the father of one of the children involved in the shooting. Police did not release the names of the juveniles or the adults concerned except for the victim.

Because the owner of the gun was not related to any of the children, and because none of the children lived in the home where the shooting occurred, Brobst said her office concluded that neither the father nor the other man could be charged.

On the afternoon of the shooting, neither of the men who lived in the townhouse was home when the children went into a bedroom and found a semiautomatic handgun in a dresser drawer, authorities said.

Pub Date: 10/08/98

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