Morgan officer fatally shoots knife-wielding student Man had attempted suicide days before

March 31, 1991|By Roger Twigg

A Morgan State University student who had been temporaril barred from campus housing because of a suicide attempt Wednesday was killed yesterday when he returned to his room and threatened an armed university officer with a kitchen knife and barbecue fork, according to authorities.

Donald Thomas Hultz Jr., a 35-year-old freshman who lived with another student in newly acquired university housing in the 4400 block of Marble Hall Road, was shot once in the chest. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before 1 a.m., according to a spokeswoman.

Mr. Hultz's death, just four days after he called police after slashing his wrists, came as no surprise to his 25-year-old roommate, Paul C. Rice.

"I saw it coming. He lived a destructive lifestyle," Mr. Rice said yesterday. "He was a partyer. He loved to drink. If he had managed to keep that in check, who knows?"

Family members also said Mr. Hultz had been on a downward spiral.

"I wrote the scenario eight years ago," said James Patrick Harrington, a brother-in-law who is also a Prince George's County police officer.

"This is a man who met frustration and could never come to grips with it. With him it was always someone else's fault. His way of dealing with the situation was through drugs and alcohol."

Mr. Harrington said Mr. Hultz had had several brushes with police and had been released from prison last year after serving a sentence for assaulting a police officer.

According to Mr. Harrington, Mr. Hultz, who was white, had enrolled at Morgan, a traditionally black school, on a minority scholarship.

His apartment on Marble Hall Road was in temporary housing acquired for students while other dormitories are undergoing renovations. Mr. Rice said Mr. Hultz enrolled in January after signing up for nine credits.

Mr. Rice, a junior, said most students attend full-time and sign up for about 18 credits.

Everything appeared to unravel Wednesday -- during spring break -- when Mr. Hultz called police threatening to take his own life.

When police arrived at his apartment, they found he had slashed his wrists and had to wrest a knife from him. Mr. Hultz was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was treated for his wounds and released, a spokeswoman said. She declined to discuss whether he had undergone a psychiatric evaluation.

School officials then barred Mr. Hultz from returning to his room until tomorrow, when he was to appear before a board to evaluate his situation.

On his release from the hospital he went to stay with a former girlfriend, Mr. Rice said.

Yesterday, shortly after midnight, he returned to his room and started banging on the door, yelling, "Let me in, let me in," Mr. Rice said.

Mr. Rice said he was reluctant to let Mr. Hultz, who had been drinking, into the apartment, but did so after he insisted that he only wanted to pick up his "toothbrush and some clothing."

Because he was concerned for his safety, Mr. Rice said, he called university police. An armed officer arrived, but by that time Mr. Hultz had taken off his shirt and jacket, sat down in a chair and announced that he was not leaving, Mr. Rice said.

Mr. Hultz became aggressive, and Mr. Rice said he watched him walk into the kitchen, where he picked up a knife. Mr. Hultz yelled for the officer, who had been joined by two unarmed colleagues.

"He started doing some karate movements -- some Bruce Lee stuff -- and yelled, 'What are you going to do, shoot me? Well, shoot me,' " Mr. Rice said.

Police moved Mr. Rice out of the way into a hallway, and minutes later he heard a gunshot. Police said Mr. Hultz was carrying a butcher knife and a barbecue fork when he was shot.

No charges were lodged against the 42-year-old officer, Everett Croslin, who fired the shot. He had been working for the Morgan police force for four years.

City homicide detectives are investigating the slaying and will report their findings to the state's attorney's office.

Mr. Rice said Mr. Hultz told him he was from Texas and had decided to attend Morgan to obtain a business degree so that he might one day take over a family restaurant.

"He was like one of those Texans you might see in the movies. . . . He would drink just about every night and fall asleep listening to his Elvis and country tapes," Mr. Rice said.

Mr. Harrington, the victim's brother-in-law, said Mr. Hultz had an uncle in Texas, but no one in his family was in the restaurant business.

Even claims by Mr. Hultz that he was a Vietnam veteran who suffered "flashbacks" were not true, he said.

Mr. Harrington said the victim's life was "just a miss-and-hit situation, a job here and a job there. . . . He just had a lot of pipe dreams."

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