A Harford sheriff's deputy shot and seriously wounded a Norrisville man who held his wife hostage with a shotgun for two hours yesterday and threatened to set her ablaze in a pool of gasoline he poured around her feet outside their garage.
Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows ordered his marksman to use deadly force if necessary when the man, believed to be drunk, screamed at negotiators that he wanted a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey and appeared ready to set fire to the gasoline with a cigarette lighter.
"The gasoline intensified the situation, because any spark could have ignited it and injured the hostage or her husband," said Sgt. Edward Hopkins, a sheriff's spokesman.
The Sheriff's Response Team sniper fired one shot at 11:28 a.m. The bullet struck the man in the face and went through the back of his neck, authorities said.
Sergeant Hopkins identified the suspect as David Charles Kling, 28, of 5106 Buttermilk Road. Mr. Kling, a National Guard airplane mechanic, was in critical condition last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
When the sheriff's sniper fired, Mr. Kling was holding his wife, Cathleen, 38, by the collar with one hand and pointing the shotgun at her with his other hand. As the bullet struck, she broke from his grip and ran, authorities said.
She was hysterical after the shooting as deputies sprinted to her side and took her to the Norrisville Volunteer Fire Station on Route 136. Authorities had set up an emergency command post there, within sight of the Klings' home a half-mile away.
Mrs. Kling was tended by medics, and she received counseling from the sheriff's chaplain and counselors from the Harford County Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center in Bel Air. She declined to go to a hospital and wanted her children brought to the fire station, Sergeant Hopkins said.
The standoff between Mr. Kling and the deputies began at 9:28 a.m., after Mrs. Kling's older son, Edgar Gonzales, 13, carried his 18-month-old brother, Alex, to a neighbor's house to seek help. He told deputies when they arrived that Mr. Kling had been drinking heavily.
Mrs. Kling also called police to report that her husband was threatening her with a shotgun, Sergeant Hopkins said.
The first deputies to arrive found Mr. Kling outside with his wife, the shotgun pointed at her head.
At one point, Mr. Kling fired one shot near his wife's ear, but it did not strike her.
Over the next two hours, the deputies tried to talk Mr. Kling into giving up the shotgun as he dragged his wife up and down the driveway. He refused and demanded that police bring his brother to the house with a bottle of whiskey. His angry screams could be heard at the command post.
The negotiators told him that he would have to give up his shotgun to get the whiskey.
About 11:20 a.m., as Sheriff's Response Team members jockeyed for position within 30 yards of the garage, one of the negotiators reported that Mr. Kling had become "violent again" and had poured gasoline around his wife's feet.
Authorities at the command post radioed one of their marksmen to ask if he could get a clean shot at the man. When the marksman replied that tree limbs might deflect a bullet, he was ordered to get in a better position and "take him out."
The marksman acknowledged the order, and then was asked if he understood it. He repeated that he understood that he had a "green light" to shoot the man.
Response team members began first aid on Mr. Kling immediately after the shooting. Medics arrived from the firehouse within a minute to take over.
Harford County District Court records showed that Mr. Kling is awaiting trial March 31 on a battery complaint filed against him by his wife in September.
Mr. Kling had been barred from the house by court order because of alleged threats that he would harm Mrs. Kling.
But in November, District Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. amended the order at Mrs. Kling's request to allow Mr. Kling to return home, court records showed.
A social worker's report in September stated both children were "at risk, when the two [Mr. and Mrs. Kling] are together."
The report called the couple's behavior "extremely immature" and said that both Mr. and Mrs. Kling "involve the children to get back at each other."
Capt. Hunt Kerrigan, a Guard spokesman in Baltimore, said that Mr. Kling came to work early yesterday at the Weide Army Airfield at Aberdeen Proving Ground's Edgewood area but that he left soon after he got there.
"He just said he had to work on a personal matter," Captain Kerrigan said.