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Ga. police chief who says he accidentally shot wife resigns

Posted at 3:10 PM, Mar 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-11 15:10:25-04

A Georgia police chief who said he accidentally shot and seriously injured his wife while the couple were sleeping in bed has resigned, the Peachtree City Police Department said Wednesday.

William McCollom stepped down as chief of police in Peachtree City nearly a week after a prosecutor announced that although the New Year’s Day shooting appeared accidental, McCollom could eventually face a misdemeanor charge accusing him of recklessly taking a gun to bed after drinking alcohol and taking sleeping medication.

The shooting in Peachtree City, an upscale community of 35,000 people south of Atlanta, left Margaret McCollom paralyzed below the waist.

William McCollom

William McCollom

“I have had had two families in Peachtree City — my police family and my personal family. In light of the recent tragedy in my personal family, I need to continue to focus my time and efforts there,” William McCollom said in a message posted Wednesday on the police department’s Facebook page.

Medics and police rushed to the McColloms’ home early on January 1 after the chief called 911 to say he accidentally shot his wife as both were sleeping — by inadvertently moving a gun that he had taken to bed with him.

“The gun was in the bed, I went to move it, put it to the side, and it went off,” McCollom says in a recording of the 911 call.

Later in the call, the operator asked McCollom, “Were you asleep also when this happened?”

“Yes,” the chief, 57 at the time, replied.

Margaret McCollom

Margaret McCollom

Last week, Scott Ballard, district attorney for a several-county area that includes Peachtree City, said a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe found the following:

— McCollom went to bed on New Year’s Eve after consuming alcohol and sleep medication.

— After barking dogs awoke him in the middle of the night, he got up, picked up his Glock 9mm gun from a dresser and checked the house. After finding nothing, he returned to bed, placing the gun under the sheets.

— McCollom woke up to the sound of a gunshot that struck his wife’s right side. A wound on his right hand corroborates his claim that his palm blocked the ejection of a spent shell.

— Forensic analysis of the sheets shows that the gun was fired from under the sheets.

Investigators concluded there was no evidence to suggest McCollum intentionally shot his wife, and that he didn’t appear to have any motive to harm her, Ballard said.

Still, Ballard said he would ask a grand jury on April 15 to indict McCollum on a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct, “since the chief took a loaded gun to bed with him after ingesting alcohol and sleep medication.”

Margaret McCollom has been staying at a spinal cord rehabilitation center, being treated for paralysis below the waist and other complications, Ballard said last week.

McCollom was named the police chief in October after being interim chief for three months, CNN affiliate WSB reported.

Magazines and websites regularly rank Peachtree City as one of the best places to live and raise a family. The community’s trademark: Residents putter around in golf carts on the community’s 90-plus miles of paved pathways.

RELATED: Authorities: Ga. police chief calls 911, says he accidentally shot wife