Chief’s wife ‘good’ after shooting ‘accident’

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McCollom on paid leave pending probe outcome | Opinion — ‘The shot reported around the world’

UPDATED 5:25 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2014 — Margaret McCollom, 58, the wounded but recovering wife of Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom, Monday told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that she was asleep in her bed when she was struck by a single bullet to her back but believed her shooting was an accident.

 
The Jan. 5 GBI news release said, “GBI agents interviewed Margaret McCollom [Monday] afternoon in her hospital room at the Atlanta Medical Center. Ms. McCollom was shot by Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom in their home at 103 Autumn Leaf in Peachtree City [Jan. 1]. During the interview, Ms. McCollom stated she was asleep when the shooting occurred and could provide no information about the shooting; however, she believes the shooting was an accident.”
 

Left, Maggie McCollom on Facebook.
 
In a summary of the probe so far, the GBI said, “The Peachtree City Police Department requested the GBI conduct an investigation of the shooting. The investigation has revealed the shooting occurred in the bedroom of the home. Chief McCollom fired his service weapon once, striking Ms. McCollom in the back. Ms. McCollom was airlifted to the Atlanta Medical Center to be treated for her injury. Chief McCollom has been cooperating with GBI agents working the investigation. When the GBI completes the investigation, it will be turned over to Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard.”
 
 
McCollom’s condition steadily improved from “critical” on her first day in the hospital to “good” as of Tuesday morning, according to an AMC spokesperson.
 
Chief McCollom has issued no statement as of Tuesday, and the GBI offered no other details beyond the news release above.
 
DA Ballard said the agency may express its view pertaining to whether a crime has been committed, “But usually they just give the facts.”
 
As in any case, Ballard stressed the need to wait until all the facts are presented before deter

mining if a crime has been committed and if charges will be filed.
 
At right, the McColloms’ home in south Peachtree City. Photo/Ben Nelms.
 
GBI Public Affairs Director Sherry Lang on Monday said, “We let the facts speak for themselves.” It is the prosecutor who determines if charges in a particular case will be brought, Lang added.
 
Maggie McCollom, 58, was shot in the back early New Year’s Day as she slept in the couple’s home at 103 Autumn Leaf in south Peachtree City. Chief McCollom — who is on administrative leave from his position — told a 911 dispatcher just after 4 a.m. that his 9mm Glock service handgun was in bed with the couple and accidentally fired when he “went to move it and put it to the side.”
 
McCollom in the 911 recording released Jan. 2 said his wife had been shot. McCollom said he had shot her accidentally and asked for medical assistance ASAP. Asked where she was shot, McCollom said she was shot in the back.
 
The dispatcher asked if his wife had been shot twice and McCollom answered yes. Asked about the circumstances of the incident, McCollom said the gun was in the bed. He went to move it and put it to the side and it went off, said McCollom.
 
Throughout the call, and until first responders arrived, McCollom on several occasions referenced his wife having difficulty breathing while asking her about her ability to breathe.
 
Also heard on the recording was what appeared to be Margaret McCollom crying in the background.
 
At left, GBI’s Sherry Lang and Fayette DA Scott Ballard at Jan. 1 news conference. Photo/Ben Nelms.
 
Lang at the Jan. 1 press conference confirmed that Mrs. McCollom was struck with only one bullet and had not been shot twice. Lang also confirmed that the couple lived alone in the house and that no one else was present when the incident occurred.
 
With the city’s top law enforcement officer on leave and under investigation, Capt. Stan Pye, listed as operations commander and number two in the department’s chain of command, takes over in McCollum’s place, according to City Manager Jim Pennington.
McCollum had officially been acting chief since this past summer after H.C. “Skip” Clark unexpectedly resigned as of the end of July 2014. The interim title was dropped in October 2014, and McCollom officially became the chief.
 
McCollom was hired by Peachtree City in September 2012, having previously served as the deputy police chief in Delray Beach, Fla. where he worked more than 22 years before retiring and taking the police chief’s job in Tequesta, Fla. On Friday, City Manager Jim Pennington and Vanessa Fleisch commented on the issue. “This morning, I met with every department manager, and the City of Peachtree City, including the Peachtree City Police Department, is continuing with normal operations,” said Pennington.

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EARLIER ONLINE STORY — GBI says Maggie McCollom was asleep when it happened but believed her shooting was an accident 

UPDATED 6:50 p.m. Monday, Jan. 5, 2014 — Margaret McCollom, the wounded wife of Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom, Monday told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that she was asleep when it happened but believed her shooting was an accident.

The Jan. 5 GBI news release said, “GBI agents interviewed Margaret McCollom [Monday] afternoon in her hospital room at the Atlanta Medical Center. Ms. McCollom was shot by Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom in their home at 103 Autumn Leaf in Peachtree City [Jan. 1]. During the interview, Ms. McCollom stated she was asleep when the shooting occurred and could provide no information about the shooting; however, she believes the shooting was an accident.”
 
In a summary of the probe so far, the GBI said, “The Peachtree City Police Department requested the GBI conduct an investigation of the shooting. The investigation has revealed the shooting occurred in the bedroom of the home. Chief McCollom fired his service weapon once, striking Ms. McCollom. Ms. McCollom was airlifted to the Atlanta Medical Center to be treated for her injury. Chief McCollom has been cooperating with GBI agents working the investigation. When the GBI completes the investigation, it will be turned over to Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard.”
 
McCollom’s condition was initially listed as critical but has been upgraded to “fair” over the weekend.
 
The GBI said only that investigators interviewed Margaret “Maggie” McCollom, and offered no other details beyond the news release above.
 
DA Ballard said the agency may express its view pertaining to whether a crime has been committed, “But usually they just give the facts.”
 
As in any case, Ballard stressed the need to wait until all the facts are presented before determining if a crime has been committed and if charges will be filed.
 
GBI Public Affairs Director Sherry Lang on Monday said, “We let the facts speak for themselves.” It is the prosecutor who determines if charges in a particular case will be brought, Lang added.
 
Maggie McCollom, 58, was shot in the back early New Year’s Day as she slept in the couple’s home Autumn Leaf in south Peachtree City. Chief McCollom — who is on administrative leave from his position — told a 911 dispatcher just after 4 a.m. that his 9mm Glock service handgun was in bed with the couple and accidentally fired when he “went to move it and put it to the side.”
 
McCollom in the 911 recording released Jan. 2 said his wife had been shot. McCollom said he had shot her accidentally and asked for medical assistance ASAP. Asked where she was shot, McCollom said she was shot in the back.
 
The dispatcher asked if his wife had been shot twice and McCollom answered yes. Asked about the circumstances of the incident, McCollom said the gun was in the bed. He went to move it and put it to the side and it went off, said McCollom.
 
Throughout the call, and until first responders arrived, McCollom on several occasions referenced his wife having difficulty breathing while asking her about her ability to breathe.
 
Also heard on the recording was what appeared to be Margaret McCollom crying in the background.
 
Lang at the Jan. 1 press conference confirmed that Mrs. McCollom was struck with only one bullet and had not been shot twice. Lang also confirmed that the couple lived alone in the house and that no one else was present when the incident occurred.
 
With the city’s top law enforcement officer on leave and under investigation, Capt. Stan Pye, listed as operations commander and number two in the department’s chain of command, takes over in McCollum’s place, according to City Manager Jim Pennington
 
McCollum had officially been acting chief since this past summer after H.C. “Skip” Clark unexpectedly resigned as of the end of July 2014. The interim title was dropped in October 2014, and McCollom officially became the chief.
 
McCollom was hired by Peachtree City in September 2012, having previously served as the Deputy Police Chief in Delray Beach, Fla. where he worked more than 22 years before retiring and taking the police chief’s job in Tequesta, Fla. On Friday, City Manager Jim Pennington and Vanessa Fleisch commented on the issue. “This morning, I met with every department manager, and the City of Peachtree City, including the Peachtree City Police Department, is continuing with normal operations,” said Pennington.
 
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UPDATED 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 5, 2014 —

The wounded wife of Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom has improved over the weekend and her medical condition was upgraded from serious to fair by Sunday.

She was shot in the back early New Year’s Day as she slept in the couple’s home in south Peachtree City. Chief McCollom — who is on administrative leave from his position — told a 911 dispatcher that his 9mm Glock service handgun was in bed with the couple and accidentally fired when he “went to move it and put it to the side.” (Listen to the audio by clicking here.)

No criminal charges have been filed, but beyond that, investigating authorities that include the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the Fayette County District Attorney were saying little.

McCollom in the 911 recording released Jan. 2 said his wife had been shot. McCollom said he had shot her accidentally and asked for medical assistance ASAP. Asked where she was shot, McCollom said she was shot in the back. An Atlanta Medical Center spokeswoman Friday afternoon sad McCollum’s wife remained in critical condition.

McCollom continued, responding to the dispatcher’s questions. The dispatcher asked if his wife had been shot in the back and side and McCollom answered yes. Asked about the circumstances of the incident, McCollom said the gun was in the bed. He went to move it and put it to the side and it went off, said McCollom.

Throughout the call, and until first responders arrived, McCollom on several occasions referenced his wife having difficulty breathing while asking her about her ability to breath.

Also heard on the recording was what appeared to be Margaret McCollom crying in the background.

The shooting happened just after 4 a.m. Jan. 1 in the bedroom of the small home at 103 Autumn Leaf, in south Peachtree City off Peachtree Parkway and Center Green.

The story of a police chief shooting his wife in bed has been reported extensively by major media in the United States. A major United Kingdom newspaper published an in-depth investigation of McCollom’s marital history prior to the shooting.

Margaret McCollom, 58, at first was in critical condition at Atlanta Medical Center with a single gunshot wound and had not been interviewed by officers, said Sherry Lang, spokesperson for the GBI, in a news conference mid-afternoon New Year’s Day.

Chief McCollom “is fully cooperating” with investigators, Lang said, but declined to say what the chief was telling the GBI. Beyond the release of the 911 recording of the chief, no explanation for how or why the shooting took place has been disclosed by officers.

“We’re in a wait and see mode,” said Fayette District Attorney Scott Ballard in a 2 p.m. news conference at police headquarters in Peachtree City Thursday. “Charges are possible when people break the law … but we’ll take an open mind [about the incident at this stage].”

Lang clarified a 911 call from McCollom in which he seemed to say that he had shot his wife twice accidentally. Lang said the preliminary investigation indicated that Maggie McCollom was struck with only one bullet.

Ballard said after the GBI completes its investigation and turns the results over to him, “We’ll see if it’s appropriate to bring charges.”

Ballard, Lang and police Public Information Officer Mark Brown answered reporters’ questions at the news conference in front of the police department Thursday afternoon, but none gave any details of what Chief McCollom said or of what led to the shooting inside the couple’s home in south Peachtree City about four hours into the new year. Besides the couple, no others were present at the time of the shooting.

Ballard on Friday said the GBI’s questioning of witnesses could take a week or more while lab results could take a month or more.

After questioning by investigators, Chief McCollom was at his wife’s bedside at the hospital in Atlanta.

McCollom and his wife, known to neighbors as Maggie, lived alone in the home.

Brown said the department’s members are concerned about Mrs. McCollom and for the chief, whom Brown depicted as a veteran lawman who was well-liked by his officers.

Three members of the Peachtree City Council — Mayor Vanessa Fleisch and council members Eric Imker and Terry Ernst – and City Manager Jim Pennington were inside the headquarters building after the news conference for a briefing.

No charges are pending at this time, officials said.

With the city’s top law enforcement officer on leave and under investigation, Capt. Stan Pye, listed as operations commander and number two in the department’s chain of command, takes over in McCollum’s place, according to City Manager Jim Pennington.

Fleisch and the councilmen after the 2 p.m. press conference had few comments, though Fleisch did say that the council was satisfied with the GBI and District Attorney Scott Ballard’s office handing the investigation.

“Maggie is a wonderful person, she’s strong and I hope she will come home to recover,” said Fleisch. “She’s a kind and engaging person.”

Ernst in a brief comment said, “It is tragic when you have hurt the one you love so dearly.”

McCollum had officially been acting chief since this past summer after H.C. “Skip” Clark unexpectedly resigned as of the end of July 2014. The interim title was dropped in October 2014, and McCollom officially became the chief.

McCollom was hired by Peachtree City in September 2012, having previously served as the Deputy Police Chief in Delray Beach, Fla. where he worked more than 22 years before retiring and taking the police chief’s job in Tequesta, Fla. On Friday, City Manager Jim Pennington and Vanessa Fleisch commented on the issue. “This morning, I met with every department manager, and the City of Peachtree City, including the Peachtree City Police Department, is continuing with normal operations,” said Pennington.

Fleisch said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Maggie and the McCollom family right now, as we wait for the state investigation to proceed.”

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UPDATED 3:10 p.m. Jan. 2, 2014 — The Glock 9mm was in bed with Peachtree CIty Police Chief William McCollom and his wife Margaret and was discharged accidentally as they slept, according to the chief’s 911 call, the contents of which were released today. The bullet struck her in the back, the chief told the 911 operator. Listen to the audio by clicking here.

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UPDATED 2:45 p.m. Jan. 1, 2015 — Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom shot his wife Margaret once with his service Glock 9mm handgun in the couple’s bedroom just after 4 a.m. New Year’s Day, and no criminal charges have been filed, but beyond that, investigating authorities are saying little.

Margaret McCollom, 58, is in critical condition at Atlanta Medical Center with a single gunshot wound but has not been interviewed by officers, said Sherry Lang, spokesperson for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Chief McCollom “is fully cooperating” with investigators, Lang said, but declined to say what the chief was telling the GBI. No explanation for how or why the shooting took place has been disclosed by officers.

“We’re in a wait and see mode,” said Fayette District Attorney Scott Ballard in a 2 p.m. news conference at police headquarters in Peachtree City. “Charges are possible when people break the law … but we’ll take an open mind [about the incident at this stage].”

Ballard said after the GBI completes its investigation and turns the results over to him, “We’ll see if it’s appropriate to bring charges.”

Ballard, Lang and police Public Information Officer Mark Brown answered reporters’ questions at the news conference in front of the police department Thursday afternoon, but none gave any details of what Chief McCollom said or of what led to the shooting inside the couple’s home in south Peachtree City about four hours into the new year. Besides the couple, no others were present at the time of the shooting.

McCollom and his wife, known to neighbors as Maggie, lived alone in the home.

Brown said the department’s members are concerned about Mrs. McCollom and for the chief, whom Brown depicted as a veteran lawman who was well-liked by his officers.

Three members of the Peachtree City Council — Mayor Vanessa Fleisch and council members Eric Imker and Terry Ernst were inside the headquarters building after the news conference for a briefing.

Since no charges have been filed, Chief McCollom has not been arrested and no charges are pending at this time, officials said.

With the city’s top law enforcement officer on leave and under investigation, Capt. Stan Pye, listed as operations commander and number two in the department’s chain of command, takes over in McCollum’s place, according to City Manager Jim Pennington.

Television news crews parked near 103 Autumn Leaf, in south Peachtree City off Peachtree Parkway and Center Green Thursday morning. One TV reporter knocked on a neighbor’s door but got no response.

Neighbor Rick Viall told The Citizen that he heard nothing out of the ordinary early Thursday morning from the home where McCollum and his wife lived alone.

“They were nice and polite, nice to my children,” Viall said. “Maggie is a wonderful person. … You never see either of them yell at each other.” He said he was shocked to look outside and see law enforcement at the house Thursday.

McCollum had officially been acting chief since this past summer after H.C. “Skip” Clark unexpectedly resigned as of the end of July 2014.

McCollom was hired by Peachtree City in September 2012, having previously served as the Deputy Police Chief in Delray Beach, Fla. where he worked more than 22 years before retiring and taking the police chief’s job in Tequesta, Fla.

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UPDATED 12:25 p.m. Jan. 1, 2015 — With his wounded wife fighting for her life in an Atlanta hospital, Peachtree City Police Chief Will McCollum is on administrative leave, as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probes the shooting that took place at the chief’s home early New Year’s Day.

The chief’s wife Margaret had been shot twice, a GBI spokesperson in one report is quoted as saying. 

Margaret McCollom, 58, was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta where she was listed in critical condition, according to Lt. Mark Brown, the department’s public information officer, and other reports Thursday morning.

The chief himself made the call to 911 shortly after 4 a.m., the report said. The chief said he accidentally shot his wife twice with his service pistol, the report said.

Though his whereabouts have not been disclosed, McCollum is not in jail currently, Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb said Thursday morning. No charges against the chief have been announced. A news conference at police headquarters is planned for 2 p.m. New Year’s Day.

With the city’s top law enforcement officer on leave and under investigation, Capt. Stan Pye, listed as operations commander and number two in the department’s chain of command, takes over in McCollum’s place, according to City Manager Jim Pennington.

Television news crews parked near 103 Autumn Leaf, in south Peachtree City off Peachtree Parkway and Center Green. One TV reporter knocked on a neighbor’s door but got no response.

Neighbor Rick Viall told The Citizen that he heard nothing out of the ordinary early Thursday morning from the home where McCollum and his wife lived alone.

“They were nice and polite, nice to my children,” Viall said. “Maggie is a wonderful person. … You never see either of them yell at each other.” He said he was shocked to look outside and see law enforcement at the house Thursday.

McCollum had officially been acting chief since this past summer after H.C. “Skip” Clark unexpectedly resigned as of the end of July 2014.

McCollom, hired by Peachtree City in September 2012, previously served as the Deputy Police Chief in Delray Beach, Fla. where he worked more than 22 years before retiring and taking the police chief’s job in Tequesta, Fla. in the same county where Clark formerly worked: Palm Beach.

On his application for employment with the city, McCollom noted that in Tequesta, a departmental reorganization helped cut administrative costs by 24 percent while improving operational efficiency.

McCollom also noted that he developed a community policing methodology for Delray Beach that helps arm citizens with education “to ensure the citizens can act and will act as guardians against decline.” The program offered extensive training on “resource identification and how to use resources available to them. In the area this was implemented crime dropped and property values increased.”

McCollom lists a master’s degree in public administration from Nova Southeastern University in addition to a variety of professional training including the FBI national academy and several other classes for police executives.

Below, left, Assistant Police Chief Will McCollom rides in the 2014 Peachtree City July 4th parade.
 

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First online story — Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom has been put on administrative leave as a result of his wife having been shot. Officers responded to the couple’s home on Autumn Leaf during the early morning hours of Jan. 1. District Attorney Scott Ballard said no additional information will be released at this time.

A police press release said, “On January 1st, 2015 at approximately 4:17 a.m. officers responded to 103 Autumn Leaf, Peachtree city, GA in reference to a person shot call. The victim was transported to the Atlanta Medical Center by air helicopter where she is listed in critical condition.

“The investigation into this incident has been turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation due to the husband of the victim being the Peachtree City Chief of Police. The Chief of Police has been placed on administrative leave by the City Manager pending the completion of the investigation and an internal review.

“Any further inquiries regarding the investigation need to be directed to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fayette County District Attorney.”