Police sharpshooter kills man with gun

July 21, 1994|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Matt Ebnet contributed to this article.

A 36-year-old Pennsylvania man who threatened to commit suicide at his parents' Owings Mills home held off police negotiators for more than three hours yesterday and then was killed by a police sharpshooter when he came out of the house waving a shotgun.

Mark Behr was shot in the neck by a Tactical Unit officer from the window of a house across the street when he refused to drop the shotgun, said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department.

Mr. Behr, who lived in Littlestown, Pa., was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident began about 5:30 a.m. when Mr. Behr called the suicide hot line and told the counselor that he was going to kill himself with a shotgun.

Hot line officials relayed the information to county police, who sent a negotiating team to the first block of Lingate Road where Mr. Behr was staying in his parents' home. They talked with him on the phone, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

As standard procedure, Tactical Unit officers were also dispatched, surrounding the home and warning neighbors on the quiet street to remain indoors and away from windows, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

No one else was in the home, and police said the dead man's parents were on a camping trip in Alaska.

"He said [to negotiators] that he wanted to get back on treatment, on Prozac," said Sergeant Doarnberger. "And he also wanted to get together with his wife, who he's been separated from for six years now. We thought that negotiations were going pretty well."

But shortly after 10 a.m. Mr. Behr appeared at the door with what appeared to be a cup. He retreated to the house, then appeared again, carrying a shotgun, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

When Mr. Behr turned to face officers, the police spokesman said, he was told to drop his weapon, but refused. When he began walking toward his tan and brown Chevrolet truck, which was parked outside, he was shot by Officer Robert M. Tribull Jr. Mr. Tribull, 38, a 12-year veteran, was about 90 feet away in the window of a house across the street.

"They [sharpshooters] have the green light to fire in cases where team members or civilians are in jeopardy," Sergeant Doarnberger said. "No criminal charges were pending against him. He hadn't threatened anybody, at least until he came out with the shotgun. We don't know why he did it."

At one point Mr. Behr had the shotgun in his mouth, police said, but it was unknown yesterday evening whether he pointed the gun at officers at any time. An investigation into the shooting is continuing.

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