Beaufort woman accused of attempted murder won't face federal gun charge

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Beaufort woman accused of attempted murder won't face federal gun charge

Boland's parents blamed hospital for daughter's mental state
Published Friday, February 8, 2013   |  1607 Words  |  

As a teenager, Alice Boland sometimes wandered several miles from her home without realizing where she had gone. At times, she was depressed and unable to feed herself; at other times, her appetite was voracious and her mood defiant, her parents allege in a lawsuit.

Don and Dellann Boland of Lady's Island blamed their daughter's erratic behavior on drugs administered starting in 2001 by doctors at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and various mental-health facilities around the state.

They sued in November 2004, seeking $100 million in damages.

Just more than two weeks earlier, the Bolands had also filed suit against the College of Charleston and others defendants for the same amount. They contend Alice was hazed, harassed and wrongfully committed to a mental ward while at the college, where she had enrolled at age 16 and was a B-plus student.

The lawsuits were dismissed six months after they were filed because Boland's parents did not formally serve each defendant with a document notifying them that they were being sued.

Attempts Friday to reach defendants in the Bolands' lawsuits were unsuccessful.

"We've been instructed by the people who are involved with helping Alice ... that right now we've been advised not to speak with the media," Dellann Boland said in a statement Friday.

She did not identify those advisers.

Meanwhile, Alice Boland remained in the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston, with bail set at $900,000.

She is charged with attempted murder, unlawful carrying of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and two counts of pointing a firearm. They stem from an incident Monday, in which she allegedly tried to shoot two officials of Ashley Hall, a private school in downtown Charleston.

However, Boland will not face an additional federal gun charge, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced Friday.

State and federal law prohibit those "adjudicated to be mentally defective" from purchasing a firearm. Boland was indicted after she was accused of threatening to kill President George W. Bush in 2005; the charges were dropped in 2009 after she pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.

However, that didn't preclude Boland from purchasing the .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol that witnesses and authorities say she used in Monday's incident, an ATF spokesman said Friday.

At her bond hearing Tuesday, Boland said she was making a political statement against "racist feminism" when she brandished the gun.


Bigotry, hazing, sexual harassment and discrimination were among the 26 causes of action Don and Dellann Boland cited in their 2004 lawsuit against the College of Charleston, filed on their daughter's behalf.

They said resident administrators in a school dormitory were bigoted against their daughter because of her "thick hair, heavy eyebrows and pale skin."

The suit also claims Boland's roommate "deprived her of use of her room through sexual harassment" on several occasions, starting in late October 2002, but did not elaborate.

The lawsuit also alludes to an incident on or about Nov. 15 of that year, in which Alice was handcuffed and taken to Charleston Memorial Hospital because she was threatening to hurt herself. The lawsuit also claims Alice was tested for illegal substances.

The Bolands denied that Alice tried to hurt herself and said authorities had no grounds to test her for illegal substances, since she "abhorred them."

The Medical University of South Carolina, G. Weber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital in Columbia and the state of South Carolina also were named in the suit. The Bolands said Alice was wrongfully committed and suffered emotional distress as a result.


The Bolands' lawsuit against Beaufort Memorial, the state, the S.C. Department of Social Services, the S.C. Department of Mental Health and a doctor they say treated Alice in 2001 makes similar claims. It accuses the defendants of bigotry, discrimination, insurance and medical fraud, medical malpractice, wrongful arrest and wrongful commitment.

The court filing is accompanied by an affidavit containing the Bolands' account of their daughter's mental treatment, which they indicate began in 2001, when Alice was 17.

It describes a girl who was doing well in many respects, entering college at age 16 after earning 17 Advance Placement credits in high school. It does not make clear why they sought treatment for their daughter in 2001, but they say her behavior turned bizarre thereafter.

  • Wandering from home.
  • Infatuation with a former female professor.
  • A ravenous appetite that caused her to put on 35 pounds.
  • Doctors said Alice had schizophrenia; the Bolands contend her behavior was caused by the drugs doctors gave her -- Zyprexa, Abilify and others.

    In 2003, the Bolands said, Alice was suffering depression and lack of appetite. Doctors gave her two injections of Haldol Decanoate, a drug used to treat schizophrenia, and gave her Abilify.

    Nothing seemed to work, the Bolands' said in their affidavit.

    At one point, she needed intravenous feeding to remain alive. And she was catatonic for several months because of the medication, they contend.

    She improved, the Bolands said, only after another physician prescribed a nutritional supplements, including fish oil.

    "She began to eat independently, to take responsibility for her personal grooming and to enjoy going out," the affidavit states. "Unfortunately, she showed occasional hostile behavior as an undesirable remnant of psychiatric medications, including Haldol, Risperdol, Depakote, Ability, Congentin, etc."

    She was hospitalized in April 2004 after running away from home again.

    The hospital refused to follow the protocol of supplements and ignored the Bolands' request to discharge Alice, the affidavit states.


    It's not clear from the lawsuit when Boland was discharged, but about a year after being admitted, she was arrested in the Montreal, Quebec, Canada airport. According to a report Thursday in The (Charleston) Post and Courier, Boland grew agitated as she waited in line to clear a slow-moving Customs line on May 14, 2005.

    She threatened to shoot the Montreal police officers who approached her. She then threatened to "kill President Bush with a gun."

    Montreal police officers arrested her on a charge of uttering threats, and she was taken to a Canadian hospital for psychiatric evaluation, according to court documents.

    She repeated threats against Bush and also threatened other elected officials when a Secret Service agent visited Boland at her home in Beaufort, where she lived with her parents. She was arrested again.

    A judge sent Boland to Federal Medical Center Carswell in Texas, a prison facility that tends to female mental patients. There, Dr. William Pederson ruled that she was mentally incompetent and that she needed drugs if she were ever to stand trial. Pederson was permitted, under a court order, to forcefully inject her with drugs.

    After Boland's stint at the Texas facility, she was transferred to Palmetto Behavioral Health in North Charleston. Later, her parents took her home.

    In 2009, Boland pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and the charges were dropped.


    Determining whether a person with a history of mental problems can legally purchase a firearm is not cut-and-dried, according to Beaufort County Assistant Probate Judge Heather Galvin.

    Much depends on the situation, when and how long a patient is ordered to be committed, and how they respond to treatment, she said Friday.

    Charleston police and the ATF decided Friday that "no federal charges will be filed against Alice Boland at this time."

    A police report indicates Boland purchased a .22-caliber handgun from Walterboro Gun Shop on Feb. 1, three days before Monday's incident.

    An employee of the Walterboro Gun Shop declined to comment in a brief phone interview Friday afternoon.

    Boland carried the gun in her purse when she showed up outside Ashley Hall on Monday. Witnesses told authorities she paced back and forth and mumbled to herself as students nearby waited to be picked up from school.

    When approached by a school employee, Boland drew the gun from her handbag, pointed it at an administrator and a teacher, and pulled the trigger several times.

    It did not fire.

    Authorities said the gun was in good working order and had eight rounds in the magazine. However, there was no round in the chamber.

    Charleston police also said Boland purchased three boxes of .22-caliber, long rifle ammunition of which two boxes of 40 rounds were still full. The third was missing nine rounds.

    One round as found on the floor of the vehicle.

    Authorities still have not said how Boland responded to a question on a federal form that asks if she has ever been judged mentally defective or committed to a mental institution.

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