Maryland State Trooper Kills 16-Year-Old Who Had Airsoft Gun: Police

Police received two 911 calls reporting someone acting suspicious. They found 16-year-old Peyton Ham with an airsoft gun and a knife, state police say

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A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by a Maryland State trooper in Leonardtown on Tuesday after the teen pointed what investigators determined was an airsoft gun that resembled a handgun, authorities say.

Peyton Ham, of Leonardtown, was killed, state police said.

A trooper shot Ham near a home after state police received two 911 calls starting at about 1:30 p.m. about someone acting suspicious, Secretary of State Police Col. Jerry Jones III said at a news conference. The first caller said he thought the person had a gun, left a telephone number but didn't give an address before hanging up, Jones said.

A second caller gave a street address for the suspicious person that was a short distance from the Leonardtown barracks, but the caller hung up before identifying themselves, Jones said.

Jones said the trooper, who responded alone, encountered Ham, who he said had a gun and a knife. According to Jones, a witness said they saw Ham in the driveway of the home “in a shooting stance" and pointing a weapon at the trooper.

“The trooper fired at the male, wounding him,” Jones said. 

According to another witness, Ham then pulled out a knife and tried to get up.

“The trooper ordered him to drop the knife before he fired again,” Jones said, adding that the trooper reported the shooting and called for emergency personnel while other troopers gave first aid. 

Ham was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Jones said.

An investigation revealed that the weapon Ham wielded was an airsoft gun, which is commonly used to shoot BBs. Jones called it “a close representation of an actual handgun.”

A woman who lives across the street from the shooting scene told News4 she heard multiple shots. Chopper4 footage shows 15 yellow evidence markers. 

Bullet holes were found in a house across the street, and a shot shattered the window of another home. 

Jones said he couldn’t comment on the shots.

Ham was white, as is the trooper who shot him, according to Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

The trooper, who has been with the state police for two years and seven months, was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, Jones said. The trooper was not hurt, he added.

Maryland State Police troopers don't wear body cameras, and Jones said investigators will look for video from the surrounding area. Dashcam video didn't capture the incident, he said. 

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.

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