Gun shops unlikely to face charges

Palczynski's weapons purchased at 2 stores

March 28, 2000|By Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien | Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Two gun shops that sold a shotgun and rifle allegedly used by Joseph C. Palczynski to kill four people are unlikely to face federal charges, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Special Agent Mike Campbell also said the Gun Shop in Essex and White Marsh Arms in Reisterstown are not under investigation. Officials found no indication, he said, that either shop knew that the guns were purchased for a convicted felon with a history of mental problems.

Constance Ann Waugh, 48, of the 12500 block of Gracewood Drive in Middle River told both dealers that the guns were gifts, according to a federal affidavit. Waugh is undergoing a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.

"We are not anticipating any federal charges," said Campbell. "Under federal law, you have to prove that a gun dealer knowingly made a straw purchase. There is no indication that the gun dealers involved knew that.

"It is OK under federal law to purchase a gun as a gift for someone," he added.

In an affidavit used to obtain Waugh's arrest warrant, federal agents said Waugh told them she knew Palczynski well and referred to him by the nickname "Joby." The warrant was obtained March 10, three days after police say Palczynski began a rampage in which he allegedly abducted his ex-girlfriend, Tracy Whitehead, and killed four people.

Later, he held three hostages in a Dundalk apartment for four days and was killed March 21 in a police raid.

Waugh told agents that Palczynski visited her at her home March 6 and told her that he could not buy a gun because of a criminal record for assault, according to the affidavit. Palczynski told her he wanted the guns for target practice, she said.

The affidavit says that Waugh went into the Gun Shop with Palczynski and bought a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, a sling to hold it, a pistol grip and ammunition. She also purchased three 20-round magazines for an AR-15 .223-caliber rifle, paying $368.49.

The two then went to White Marsh Arms in the 11000 block of Reisterstown Road, where Palczynski told Waugh to buy a Colt AR-15 and a box of ammunition. According to the affidavit, Waugh paid for the weapon and ammunition with $1,600 in cash.

Waugh and Palczynski then went to Waugh's house, where he told her he would be back to pick up the guns later that night. "He returned about 11: 30 p.m. and gave her a hand-made bill of sale indicating that he paid her $1,600 for an AR-15 and a shotgun," the affidavit said.

Police say Palczynski used the weapons the day after they were purchased.

He allegedly kidnapped Whitehead, 22, from an apartment in the 3700 block of White Pine Road in Bowleys Quarters. There, police say, he fatally shot George Shenk, 49; his wife, Gloria Jean, 50; and their neighbor, David Meyers, 42. The next night, police say he killed passing motorist Jennifer L. McDonel, 37, during an attempted carjacking, and wounded a 2-year-old, also in a passing car.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James K. Bredar ordered that Waugh be examined by Dr. Neil Blumberg, a Timonium psychiatrist, to determine whether she is competent to stand trial on a federal charge of making a false statement in connection with the purchase of a firearm.

On March 24, Bredar released Waugh to the custody of a relative, according to James Webster, an assistant U.S. attorney. She had been held at a federal facility. Bredar sealed the terms of the release.

He ordered that Blumberg's report be made available to the prosecution and defense lawyers Thursday and scheduled a hearing for Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to determine whether Waugh is competent to stand trial.

In another aspect of the case, David P. Henninger, an attorney for Palczynski, said yesterday that a last-minute surrender plan may have fallen through because of Palczynski's demands.

Henninger had scrambled March 20 to negotiate a surrender to federal authorities. But Palczynski continued to insist on talking to his estranged girlfriend, police told Henninger that night. After a lengthy wait, Henninger made contact again, but Palczynski said he was very tired and wanted to sleep.

Police, who had the apartment under video and audio surveillance, according to Henninger, have not provided details about the March 20 talks. But police have said they did not believe Palczynski's promise to surrender was sincere.

A Rosedale church has established a trust fund for the victims.

The fund is intended to help cover medical and counseling expenses for the immediate families of the four people Palczynski is believed to have killed, along with the family of the young boy who was injured by a shot allegedly fired by Palczynski.

The fund also would help pay relocation costs for Andy McCord, his girlfriend Lynn Whitehead, and their son Bradley McCord, all of whom were held hostage by Palczynski.

Members of the McCord family approached officials at the Central Christian Assembly and asked for assistance in setting up the fund, a church official and a member of the family said.

"They don't have a home. They don't have anything," said Mary McCord, who is Lynn Whitehead's sister and is married to Andy McCord's brother. "Their house is nothing but bullet holes."

Members of the family have been living at Mary McCord's home since they were freed.

Pat Kisser, an official at Central Christian Assembly, was unable to say yesterday how much money has been raised.

Donations to the fund can be sent to: Victim Restoration Trust Fund, Central Christian Assembly, 7411 Rossville Blvd., Baltimore 21237.

Sun staff writer Jay Apperson contributed to this article.

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