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Owner of Harlem home charged after his son shot a 13-year-old girl

Drugs, weapon found during investigation of accidental shooting

Posted: March 30, 2012 - 9:32am  |  Updated: March 30, 2012 - 1:40pm
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Richard Wayne Provance, 54, of Harlem, was charged with drug and weapon possession after a 13-year-old girl was shot in his home Thursday, March 29, 2012.  Special
Special
Richard Wayne Provance, 54, of Harlem, was charged with drug and weapon possession after a 13-year-old girl was shot in his home Thursday, March 29, 2012.

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A Harlem homeowner facing weapons and drug charges lost custody of his 14-year-old son, who is accused of shooting a 13-year-old girl, at a juvenile detention hearing for the boy Friday morning.

Richard Wayne Provance, 54, was charged with manufacture and possession of drugs, and possession of a gun during commission of a crime, according to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office report.

He was booked Thursday into the Columbia County Detention Center and is being held without bond, said sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

About 4 p.m. Thursday, Harlem police were called to Provance's Keener Street home after they say his son accidentally shot 13-year-old Ellie Kelly in the face.

Morris said Kelly, the boy, and another boy and girl, were inside the home preparing for a dance at Harlem Middle School when the shooting took place.

"He was showing it off," sheriff's Investigator Randall Chambers said of the .38-caliber revolver during the hearing.

The gun was found in the kitchen, where Kelly was shot.

"He said he did it," Chambers said. "That he was messing around with the gun. He thought it was cool showing it off. It accidentally discharged."

No adults were in the home at the time, he said.

"He had the hammer back," Chamber said. "He explained that he was trying to release the hammer with his finger in front of it so he could ease it back down, when it slipped off his finger and discharged."

Kelly, of the 6200 block of Otis Way in Harlem, was airlifted to the Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center, where she is being treated, Morris said.

Because Kelly was admitted with a gunshot wound, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Scott said she was unable to release the girl's condition per hospital policy.

The shooting is being ruled accidental, Harlem Public Safety Director David Sward said Thursday.
Sward said that information surrounding the cause of the shooting won't be released until the investigation is complete.

"We're still trying to get all of our facts straight, but we do know she wasn't shot on purpose," he said.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office was called in to assist in the case, and inside the home investigators discovered "18.4 grams of marijuana, three marijuana plants, two partially smoked marijuana cigarettes and three bags of marijuana seeds," along with a Colt .45 pistol and marijuana-growing paraphernalia, according to a police report.

Provance then was arrested, Morris said. Authorities said Provance also had two other handguns and a rifle inside the home.

Juvenile Court Probation Officer Rodney Brown said at the hearing that the boy admitted he had smoked marijuana. But a drug test revealed no marijuana in his system, Brown said.

After the shooting, the other girl present ran to Harlem Middle School, where she told administrators what happened, according to a press release from the Columbia County school system.

"In an abundance of precaution and because it was reported to us that the offender had not been located, North Harlem Elementary and Harlem Middle School went into a soft lockdown to ensure the safety of individuals on these school campuses," according to the release.

Pupils at both schools already had been released for the day at the time of the shooting.
Harlem Middle faculty and staff reported to school early Friday and psychologists were available to speak to pupils in need of counseling.

The boy, whose name was not released, was charged with reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a person under 18. He was transferred to the ReĀ­gional Youth Detention Center, Morris said.

During the detention hearing, Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan ordered that the boy remain in custody while he undergoes a psychological evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete, Flanagan said he'll decide whether to release the boy to "a fit and willing relative" or into the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services.

Both the sheriff's office and Harlem Public Safety will continue to investigate the case.

William Cox, 15, who was standing outside the home Thursday as investigators combed through the crime scene, said he didn't know Kelly well, but said she is "pretty nice." Cox, an eighth-grader at HarĀ­lem Middle School, said Kelly was in the seventh grade at the school.

"This is what happens when parents have guns in the home and do not secure (them)," Flanagan said at the hearing, before directing his attention to Provance. "I have strong concerns when I have a child using marijuana and dad is growing it. Dad, I don't know what they charged you with yesterday, but when you come back and see me, there will probably be a couple of more charges."

This is the second time in 14 months that a Harlem girl was shot by a teen boy.

In January 2011, Alana May Calahan, 14, was fatally shot inside her Miles Road home. Her 15-year-old friend Lacy Aaron Schmidt was convicted of her murder Feb. 10 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

It's also the second time this week a youth has been charged with shooting another child.

On Monday afternoon, 10-year-old Hunter Morris was fatally shot at a neighbor's home in Plantation Acres Mobile Homes in Richmond County. A 12-year-old boy has been charged in connection with the shooting, which the Richmond County Sheriff's Office has said appears to be accidental.

"In our Augusta (Judicial) Circuit, which includes three counties, we've had two incidents in less than two weeks," Flanagan said. "And that is two too many for us to have young people hurting other people with firearms that adults should be held responsible for to make sure they are secured."

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