A Prince George County man who appeared in court Thursday after his July arrest on child pornography charges shot himself in the head Thursday after learning he was to be charged with another offense and saw that officers were searching his home, according to police and the man’s attorney.
The man, James Paul Berry III, 62, was transported to a local hospital following the shooting.
“It was a self-inflicted wound and when he left he was still alive,” said Prince George police spokeswoman officer Alexis Grochmal.
Debra Corcoran, Berry’s attorney, said Berry was in Prince George Circuit Court on Thursday morning for a motions hearing in his case.
Corcoran said she and the prosecutor were discussing the case outside the courtroom, “and at that time he told me he was intending on serving Mr. Berry with another indictment, and they were going to serve him in the courtroom — and they intended to revoke his bond.”
At that point, Corcoran said, she huddled with Berry to tell him he was to be served with another indictment. “But I said I felt pretty confident that I would be able to keep him out on bond until this matter went to trial or got resolved.”
Berry then walked out of the courthouse. “He indicated he was going to have a cigarette, but I felt like something was very wrong,” the attorney said.
“I think that was just a little bit too much and more than he could take,” Corcoran said, referring to the looming additional charge.
When he didn’t return after about 10 or 15 minutes, “I tried to contact him ... and then the prosecutor became aware of his absence,” he said.
Shortly thereafter, “we got the news” he shot himself.
Corcoran said Berry drove a short distance to a trailer park that he lived in and managed. When he went to his trailer, “he saw that police executed a search warrant” on his residence “even through they had not yet served the new charge on him,” she added.
Grochmal said Prince George officers responded about 12:10 p.m. to the 3800 block of Puddledock Road in an attempt to locate a man wanted on an indictment related to the production of child pornography.
Once on scene, an officer observed the suspect standing outside his residence. As the officer began a dialogue with him, the suspect retrieved a handgun from his clothing, Grochmal said.
“As the suspect turned away from the officer, gunfire was heard,” Grochmal said. “The officer subsequently discovered the suspect lying on the ground with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The involved officer did not discharge his service weapon.”
The man was transported to the TriCities Emergency Center in Prince George, “where his condition is not known at this time,” she said.
After a one-year investigation, Berry was arrested in July on 40 indictments charging him with possession of child pornography.
In an email at the time, Police Chief Keith Early said an investigation led detectives to execute a search warrant at Berry’s home in the 3800 block of Puddledock Road, where electronic devices were seized. Numerous images of child pornography were discovered during a forensic examination of the devices, Early said.
Early declined to say whether Berry is alleged to have downloaded the sexually explicit images from the internet or self-created any of the material.