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Off-duty officer working as guard shoots boy, 14, in Baltimore County

Police say off-duty county officer injures 14-year-old in shooting.

An off-duty Baltimore County police officer working as a security guard in Randallstown shot a 14-year-old boy Monday evening in what police described as an accidental shooting.

Police said two off-duty officers were working at the Woodridge apartment complex, in the 9600 block of Southall Road, when they went to investigate a report of people inside a vacant apartment. According to police, one of the officers said he saw someone come out on the balcony. He told police that he "was pointing the weapon in the direction of the balcony" when "his weapon discharged accidentally," the department said in a statement.

Police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter said the teen was hit in the shoulder. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and has been released, according to a hospital spokesperson. The boy's family could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Wachter said the department has not released the boy's name because he might be charged for being in the vacant building.

The officer, whose name has not been released, will be placed on administrative duty while the department investigates. The Baltimore County state's attorney's office is expected to review the investigation.

Wachter said the teen and two others entered the apartment though an unlocked back door.

"We don't know the exact reason," he said. "We have talked to the kid. We talked to two other kids that were in the building, and it appears that they were just being kids. [There's] nothing to indicate that they went in there to damage or steal anything."

When the teens saw security guards coming toward the building, two of them ran out, Wachter said. The third ran toward the balcony, where he was shot.

The off-duty officer was on a hill that sloped down to the ground floor, putting him slightly above eye level with the balcony, Wachter said.

After the teen was shot, Wachter said the boy went out through the back of the apartment and ran home.

"The officer having his weapon drawn is not unusual," Wachter said. "There's a number of situations where an officer would have his weapon out to react to any threats."

He said it is unclear what caused the gun to fire.

"We're still looking at what was in the officer's mind. We don't know what caused the accident," Wachter said. "The discharge of the weapon was not an intentional discharge."

Wachter said the officer did not immediately realize he had hit anyone. "It wasn't evident to him that the guy was injured," he said.

He said the second off-duty officer had run up the steps of the apartment entrance and did not draw his gun but had his hand on it.

Wachter said the officer was carrying a privately owned firearm that he was approved to use.

"Officers are allowed to carry firearms while working secondary employment if they get approval to do so," Wachter said.

Several people interviewed Tuesday at the apartment complex said they had not heard about the shooting, but noted that the building was being renovated after a fire last year.

John Heagy, whose company has been remodeling the units, said he has never had any problems at the construction site.

"It's a really a nice, decent neighborhood," he said. Heagy said his employees were not working at the time of the incident.

Management at the Woodridge Apartments did not respond to a phone call seeking comment. A woman who identified herself as an employee but refused to give her name declined to comment and asked a reporter to leave the complex.

Baltimore Sun reporters Alison Knezevich and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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