A Maryland state trooper fatally shot a 16-year-old boy who was allegedly holding an Airsoft gun, ABC News and other outlets have reported. Police say the unidentified trooper was responding to a call in Leonardtown, Maryland on Tuesday (April 13) about “an individual who was possibly armed with a gun.” The slain teenager was later identified as Peyton Ham.
According to police, witnesses say Ham took a “shooting stance” and pointed the toy gun at the trooper. The trooper then fired a shot at the teen, who collapsed on the ground. Another witness allegedly told investigators that, while on the ground, Ham tried to get back up and pulled out a knife. The trooper allegedly then ordered Ham to drop the knife and fired at him a second time.
Ham was transported to the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Later on, police say they determined that the teen’s gun was fake.
“A Maryland state trooper from the Leonardtown Barrack has been involved in a shooting after responding to a call for an individual who was possibly armed with a gun,” the department said in a Facebook statement. “The incident occurred not far from the Leonardtown Barrack. We have no additional details at this time.”
Both the knife and the Airsoft gun were recovered from the scene, police say. Ham’s autopsy will reportedly be conducted soon.
“Any loss of life is a tragedy; this especially is a tragedy,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Jerry Jones said. “We take these very seriously. I certainly empathize with the family of this young man and what they’re feeling right now. I can’t even comprehend how sad this has got to be and tragic, and we feel that. The investigators feel that.”
The incident is now being criminally investigated by the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and the Maryland State Police Internal Affairs Division. The involved trooper has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.