Boy, 13, fatally shoots sister, 11, during visit to grandparents' home Loaded revolver found in dresser, police say

November 28, 1998|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Tanya Jones and Kirsten Scharnberg contributed to this article.

A 13-year-old boy shot and killed his 11-year-old sister yesterday with a loaded gun he found in a dresser drawer of their grandparents' home in the Harundale neighborhood in Glen Burnie, Anne Arundel County police said.

Police investigators, who questioned the boy for several hours, said they believe it was an accident, police spokeswoman Lisa Ritter said.

The youngsters were visiting their grandparents John and Nancy Bickel in the 1600 block of Saunders Way for Thanksgiving. The children lived nearby and attended Woodside Elementary School Glen Burnie until moving to Grasonville in Queen Anne's County with their parents less than a year ago, friends and neighbors said.

The Sun is withholding the children's names until police conclude their investigation.

The Bickels left early yesterday for a doctor's appointment, leaving the children alone. The boy found a loaded .357-caliber revolver, one of four guns in the house and the only one not locked up, and showed it to his sister, Ritter said.

The boy told police the gun accidentally went off, shooting her in the side of the head.

The boy called 911 just after 9 a.m., police said. His sister was pronounced dead shortly afterward at North Arundel Hospital.

When the Bickels came home at 10: 30 a.m., police had taken the boy away for questioning. He was released to his father in the afternoon, Ritter said.

"The shooting appears to be accidental," she said. "It is very tragic. No one in the family appears to be in good shape."

The shooting surprised one neighbor whose son frequently played with the boy when the family lived nearby. Sharon Anderson said the boy was familiar with guns from hunting with his father, and he seemed knowledgeable about gun safety.

"I can't even imagine what he's going through," said Anderson, who worked in the school cafeteria at Woodside. "He is a good little boy and was very protective of her. It is just so hard to believe."

She and other neighbors said the two used to play for hours in the front yard of the grandparents' home, climbing trees, playing tag and running through the neighborhood with other children.

"She was a sweet little girl," Anderson said. "She reminded me of a tomboy. Whatever he did, she would follow suit."

Yesterday's shooting comes two weeks after a 15-year-old shot and killed his friend in the woods near his Pasadena home. He told police it was an accident, and police are investigating.

In February, a 15-year-old Odenton boy fatally shot himself while playing with his 22-year-old cousin's gun in the cousin's Severn home.

Friends and neighbors of the Bickels said the boy is devastated by the shooting.

"They are such a nice family," said Crystal Hall, 36, who grew up on the quiet, tree-lined street across from the Bickels and played with the Bickels' children. "Always quiet and kind. There have never been any problems with any of them."

Hall said the children frequently visited their grandparents, who have lived on Saunders Way since 1972.

"They were good kids and got along real well, from what we could see," she said.

Said Eleanor Lynch, who used to watch them through a window in her house, "For a brother and sister, they just got along and played together a lot."

Pub Date: 11/28/98

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