Alice Boland indicted on four federal charges in Ashley Hall incident

Alice Boland, the 28-year-old Beaufort woman arrested on suspicion of trying to kill an Ashley Hall school official, has been indicted on four federal charges, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles.

Boland is charged with making a false statement in order to purchase a firearm, illegally possessing a firearm because of her status as a person who had been committed to a mental institution or who had been adjudicated as mentally incompetent, possession of a firearm in a school zone and attempted discharge of a firearm in a school zone.

If convicted of all four charges, Boland would face up to 30 years behind bars.

The first two counts each carry up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of probation. The second two each carry up to five years in prison, a $100,000 fine and a year of probation.

Boland was arrested Feb. 4 after the Charleston Police Department said she pointed a .22-caliber pistol at an administrator at the downtown private school and pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire because no round had been loaded into the chamber.

She also pointed it at a teacher, the police said.

She had faced state charges of attempted murder and pointing a firearm, among other counts.

Authorities said she bought the Taurus PT22 pistol three days earlier at Walterboro Gun Shop despite her history of mental illness.

Federal authorities had said that there was nothing illegal about the purchase even though a questionnaire for buying the gun asks whether the buyer had ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. In 2005, Boland was forcefully treated for schizophrenia after Secret Service agents said she threatened to kill the president.

Despite not bringing initial charges, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated Boland’s gun purchase and turned over their findings to Nettles’ office, which presented it to a grand jury.

Nettles announced the grand jury’s indictment this morning.

Reached today, ATF spokesman Earl Woodham and a spokeswoman for Nettles, Beth Drake, both declined to discuss the inconsistencies between the indictment and the earlier statements by the ATF.

Because of the Boland case, legislation has been introduced on both state and federal levels that lawmakers said would bolster the national database for firearms background checks in order to prevent the mentally ill from buying a gun in the first place.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.

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