The Maryland State Police have forwarded their criminal investigation of a shooting where a trooper shot and killed a 16-year-old boy in Leonardtown to the St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“We’re really working hard to get that wrapped up,” Deputy State’s Attorney Daniel White said outside of the county courthouse in Leonardtown, just over a mile down Washington Street from the Hollywood Road location where two months ago a lawman fired several shots at Peyton Ham, who was carrying what was later found to be a toy gun.
White said the office is waiting on reports from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner related to the teen’s death.
Shortly after the shooting in April, police convened a press conference in Leonardtown where Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow W. Jones told reporters police had received two calls reporting a “suspicious” individual with what appeared to be a gun at a residence next to the Maryland State Police Barrack in Leonardtown.
Trooper Joseph Azzari, who was not identified as the officer who fired the shots until weeks after, arrived after the two 911 calls and saw Ham, who police said took a “shooter’s stance” with the gun. Azzari fired at least once, wounding Ham, before Ham allegedly drew a knife, and Azzari fired again.
Investigators have not yet said how many shots were fired, but several bullet holes appeared in a garage at a house across the street, The Baltimore Sun reported shortly after the shooting.
State police released a photo of the actual knife involved, but included a stock image of the airsoft gun involved, as there was blood on the toy gun.
Azzari has been on administrative leave since the shooting, pending an administrative investigation by the state police.
While preliminary work on the administrative investigation is done, the full investigation will begin when the criminal investigation completes, Greg Shipley, a spokesperson for the state police, said.
Ham, who was a student at Leonardtown High School, was described as an “incredibly smart, gifted sweet young man” by family in a press release from the family’s attorney, Christopher Longmore, who is a family member of the teenager. He was compared to Alex P. Keaton of the NBC sitcom Family Ties.
Soon after his death, a large memorial ceremony was held at Leonardtown High School in Ham’s honor.