A Georgia police chief who said he accidentally shot his ex-wife while they slept was indicted yesterday on a misdemeanor reckless-conduct charge. Peachtree City Chief William McCollom called 911 early New Year's Day to report inadvertently shooting his ex-wife, Margaret, as they slept in their suburban Atlanta home. The shooting left Margaret McCollom paralyzed below the waist. District Attorney Scott Ballard says investigators found no evidence McCollom intended to harm Margaret. However, he concluded the shooting could have been prevented. The investigation showed that McCollom, a former firearms instructor, woke during the night when he heard barking dogs, prompting him to grab his service handgun and search the house.
He returned to bed with the gun and told investigators he woke next to the sound of a gunshot, Ballard says. The chief, who said he drank alcohol and took medication to help him sleep, said he suspected he might have been trying in his sleep to move the gun to a nightstand. "The gun was in the bed, I went to move it, and I put it to a side and it went off," McCollom told a 911 dispatcher. His Margaret told police that she was asleep when the shooting happened but believed it was an accident, according to state investigators. The couple divorced in 1999 but later reunited. "When I look at the facts, it appears to me that this is reckless conduct," Ballard says. If convicted, McCollom could face a year in jail. He resigned from the chief's job in March.