Columnist Says He Was Doing What Any Husband Would Do
Jun. 18, 1988
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Columnist Carl T. Rowan says race isn't the issue in the controversy over his shooting of a white teen-age intruder at his home, but black activists and other members of the public aren't so sure.
''Anybody who is threatening my family becomes my enemy,'' Rowan, who is black, said on a syndicated television show being aired today. ''I don't care if he is black, white, blue or green.''
Since the shooting, attention has focused on Rowan's use of a gun that was not properly registered according to District of Columbia law, and talk has centered on whether Rowan would be charged with a gun violation.
The Washington Post, citing unidentified law enforcement sources, reported in today's editions that District of Columbia police on Friday requested an arrest warrant charging Rowan with unlawful possession of a handgun, but that the U.S. attorney's office intervened because its investigation was not concluded.
Because police charges of unlawful entry against two teen-agers caught at Rowan's home were withdrawn pending further investigation by the U.S. attorney, some members of the public have presumed the youths are off the hook. And, that has stirred public reaction.
Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson suggested to editors of the Post on Thursday that the intruders, because they are white and from the affluent suburb of Chevy Chase, Md., are presumed innocent.
District of Columbia Councilmember Jim Nathanson, who represents the area in which Rowan lives, said, ''I agree that there is a racial issue in terms of those kids, but it's also a class thing.''
Radio station WOL call-in host Ben Dudley said he received 35 or 40 calls Thursday supporting Rowan's action from his predominantly black, working class audience.
''It's getting a lot of attention because a wealthy black man shot a white teen-ager,'' said Dudley. ''All of those people were very supportive of Mr. Rowan's right to support his property.''
''In much of the black community, the reaction is one of anger and disgust,'' said Calvin Rolark, a longtime community activist. ''Whoever heard of someone breaking onto someone's property at 2 a.m. and having charges against them dropped immediately?''
The U.S. attorney's office would not comment Friday on the status of its investigation. A source in the U.S. attorney's office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the federal prosecutor could renew the charges or press lesser or more serious charges.
When Rowan was asked about the racial aspects of the shooting during the ''Inside Washington'' television talk show, he said:
''I can understand why there is some anger in the black community, but I don't want to get into a position of whipping up racial frenzy over this case. This is a simple matter of a husband and a head of a household doing what he had to do, regardless of who's out there.''
The television program, syndicated by Post-Newsweek Stations Inc., is scheudled to be broadcast starting today at various times around the country.
Rowan, using a gun belonging to his son, a former FBI agent, shot 18-year- old Ben Smith in the wrist when Smith confronted him at his door.
Authorities said Smith had been swimming uninvited in Rowan's pool and the commotion awakened Rowan. Smith's companion Laura Bachman, 19, of Bethesda, Md., also was arrested but charges against her were also dropped. Other teen- agers allegedly in the group got away.