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Officer’s Home Burned After He Shoots Black Child

July 29, 1993

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ A white police officer’s house was burned 11 days after he shot and wounded a black child who was throwing stones into his swimming pool.

William Beals Jr., 48, was not at home when the fire that gutted the house broke out early Wednesday. He and his wife were staying at a friend’s house after police warned him of death threats.

Deputy Fire Chief Robert Schwanzl said a flammable liquid had been poured on the front porch and ignited.

Mayor John McHugh said police had no suspects. ″Is it retaliation of some kind for last week’s shooting? ... We don’t know for sure,″ he said.

Beals, a 25-year veteran of the suburban Oregon police department, was charged with felonious assault and freed on $10,000 bail in the shooting July 17 of 6-year-old Christopher Bell.

The officer said the boy and a friend were throwing stones into Beals’ pool. Beals said he came out with a gun and it went off accidentally, wounding Christopher in the knee. The boy was treated at a hospital and released.

Civil rights activists marched to Oregon’s municipal building Saturday to protest the shooting. They were heckled about 30 whites shouting racial slurs.

The FBI is investigating whether Beals violated Christopher’s civil rights.

The city offered a $5,000 reward for information about the blaze, its Community Relations Board planned a community meeting today at a housing project near Beals’ home, and civil rights activists appealed for calm.

″We have to stop the violence,″ said Gerald Rose, director of the Council of the New Order. ″It’s wrong what happened to the child, but it’s wrong what happened to his house.″

Update hourly