Horseplay turns into tragedy; Stepfather’s gun goes off, killing South Toledo youth

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

A 13-year-old South Toledo boy was shot dead by his stepfather yesterday afternoon, after a loaded gun they were playing with went off in the youth’s face, police said.

Gregory McNally was pronounced dead at Medical College Hospital at 4:07 p.m., a half-hour after the shooting at his home at 849 South Detroit Ave., near Arlington Avenue.

Police said young McNally’s stepfather, John J. Walters, Jr., 50, was playing a game in which he “pretended to hold the stepson hostage,” Detective Jesse Villarreal said.

“The stepdad and the victim were playing around in the son’s bedroom,” Detective Villarreal said. “I don’t know why they were playing with a gun. They were evidently goofing around.”

Detective Villarreal said Mr. Walters believed that the gun was unloaded. Only one shot was fired, and it struck young McNally in the face.

Mr. Walters went into shock at the scene and was taken to MCO. He was listed in fair condition last night.

Detective Villarreal said an autopsy will be performed today, after which police will talk with the Lucas County prosecutor to discuss which, if any, charges will be filed.

Police found 11 handguns in the home. Most were kept in a safe, police said, but the safe was open when they arrived.

Mr. Walters is a security guard for Toledo Edison, police said.

Three other family members – the boy’s mother, sister, and the sister’s child – were in the house during the shooting.

Police have not yet taken a full statement from the stepfather, but he told officers at the scene that he did not know what caused the gun to go off.

Mr. Walters has been married to the boy’s mother for about a year, police said, and family members said he had a close relationship with his stepson.

The boy referred to Mr. Walters as “Dad,” the detective said.

The two had played with guns before without incident, family members told police.

A neighbor, Thomas Beach, said Mr. Walters had lived in the house about 20 years, and that the rest of the family had moved in within the last couple of years.