Police chief said he shot wife moving gun in bed

During the six minute call, Chief McCollom said he and his wife were sleeping when the shooting happened

By Ray Henry  
Associated Press

ATLANTA — A police chief in Georgia told a 911 dispatcher he accidentally shot his sleeping wife while moving a handgun that was in their bed, according to a recording released Friday.

Peachtree City police Chief William McCollom called for help at 4:17 a.m. New Year's Day and reported accidentally shooting his 58-year-old wife, Margaret, while they both slept. The Associated Press obtained a recording of the call Friday through an open records request. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting.

McCollom spoke calmly in the audio recording, telling a dispatcher he needed medical help for an accidental gunshot wound at his suburban home, about 30 miles southwest of Atlanta.

"Who shot her?" the dispatcher asked.

"Me," McCollom said. "The gun was in the bed, I went to move it, and I put it to a side and it went off."

During the call, McCollom said he and his wife were sleeping when the shooting happened. No one else was in the home. The nearly six-minute conversation between McCollom and the dispatcher sheds little light on how the gun fired. Authorities previously identified it as McCollom's 9-mm Glock handgun — his service weapon.

"This just occurred now, right before you called?" the dispatcher asked.

"Yup, yup, went off in the middle of the night," McCollom said. He told the dispatcher his wife was shot twice, though investigators later determined the wife was shot once.

McCollom said his wife was having difficulty breathing and appeared to be bleeding internally and externally. She was flown to Atlanta Medical Center, where she was listed in critical condition Friday, hospital spokeswoman Nicole Gustin said.

McCollom's wife can be heard crying in the background.

"Oh my God," the police chief said. "How the hell did this happen?"

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard said the 911 recording is just one piece of evidence in a larger case. He listened to the recording and described it as confusing. McCollom has not been charged with any crimes.

"I think that you have to take it with a grain of salt," said Ballard, who added that investigators are digging deeper. "I don't think the tape answers many of our questions, for obvious reasons."

GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said McCollom has been cooperative with investigators. Authorities plan to interview his wife when her condition improves. Peachtree City officials placed McCollom on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Before being hired in Peachtree City in 2012, McCollom worked for more than two decades in the Delray Beach, Florida, police department. He then became police chief in Tequesta, Florida. Officials in Delray Beach and Tequesta did not immediately respond to requests Friday seeking McCollom's employment records.

Court records show McCollom and his wife divorced in 1999 before getting back together. It was unclear Friday whether the couple formally remarried.

In-between, McCollom married Suzanne Carter in 2002. Carter later accused McCollom of having an extramarital relationship, though McCollom denied it, according to legal filings in their Florida divorce case. The couple divorced in January 2014. Carter declined to comment through her attorney.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press

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