Peyton Ham Leonardtown 16 year old teen holding knife and toy gun shot dead by state Maryland state trooper responding to calls of someone acting suspiciously.
Another day. Another shooting…. A 16-year-old teen boy, armed with a knife and what turned out to be an airsoft toy gun, was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon by a Maryland state trooper according to reports.
Peyton Ham was shot Tuesday afternoon in Leonardtown by a trooper responding to 911 calls of a possibly armed person ‘acting suspiciously’, according to State Police Superintendent Woodrow Jones III.
Upon the trooper arriving to the residence ‘within minutes’ circa 1:30 p.m they encountered ‘a person’ in the driveway in a ‘shooting stance,’ pointing a gun at the trooper, Jones said. The trooper fired at the male and wounded him, Jones added.
Then, the male pulled out a knife and tried to get up, Jones said citing two witnesses. The trooper ordered him to drop the knife before firing again, Jones said according to the witnesses.
The trooper reported the shooting and authorities rendered aid to the teen until emergency medical personnel arrived and took him to a hospital, where the teen was pronounced dead.
‘incredibly smart, gifted sweet young man’
Come Wednesday, Peyton’s family issued a statement saying it was heartbroken and shattered.
The statement, describes the teenager as ‘an incredibly smart, gifted sweet young man’ who was an honor student attending Leonardtown High School.
The teen’s family compared Peyton to the Alex P. Keaton character on the hit 1980s sitcom ‘Famiy Ties.’
‘His love of conservative politics always taking center stage to his lively debates at the family dinner table,’ the statement reads.
Peyton hoped to become a politician one day, according to the statement. The statement did not reveal how the son came to acquire the toy gun and knife and what led to the boy seemingly ‘playing’ with them.
A gun that was recovered at the scene was determined to be an airsoft gun that is ‘a close representation of an actual handgun,’ Jones said. A knife was also recovered, he added.
A typical airsoft gun uses a spring or compressed air to drive air that propels round plastic pellets. The toy replica guns are designed to be nonlethal and can be used for mock shooting events such as team events or law enforcement or military training.
Unrelenting police shootings
The trooper involved, wfho was not identified, was not injured and has been put on administrative leave pending an investigation. The trooper has been with state police for two years and seven months according to Jones.
The Maryland State Police do not wear body cameras and, although their vehicles are equipped with the dashcams, Jones said there was no in-vehicle footage of the events on Tuesday.
The Maryland State Police homicide unit is conducting a criminal investigation, which is standard procedure in all trooper-involved shootings, Jones reiterated.
‘There are many questions we do not have the answer to at this point in the investigation,’ Jones said. ‘However, we are committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine what has occurred.’
Once the criminal investigation is completed, it will be presented to the St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for review, Jones said, adding that the deputy state’s attorney went to the scene and was briefed by investigators.
The Maryland State Police Internal Affairs Division will conduct an administrative investigation, which is also procedure, he said.
The shooting is the latest incident of police killing or wounding teenagers who were found with or near nonlethal guns, including recent cases in Arizona, California and Oklahoma. It also comes as police use of force is again under scrutiny following the shooting deaths in the past month of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago and 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Minnesota.
According to a database of people killed by police in the US maintained by the Washington Post, there have been 262 deaths from police shootings so far in 2021.