The Harford County sheriff's sniper who shot a man during a standoff in Norrisville Tuesday was given several days off to cope with the emotional strain of the job, a sheriff's spokesman said.
"The deputy acted on direct orders from Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows to use deadly force, if necessary, so there was no question about the shooting being justifiable," said Sgt. Edward Hopkins, the sheriff's spokesman.
The sheriff wanted the sniper, a member of the Sheriff's Response Team, to have sufficient time to use the counseling that is available to deputies, the sergeant said.
The man who was shot, David Charles Kling, 28, was in critical but stable condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, hospital authorities said Friday.
Medical authorities said the bullet struck Mr. Kling in the lower face and came out the back of his neck, but struck no vital nerves.
Sheriff's investigators investigators are consulting with state prosecutors about possible criminal charges against Mr. Kling as a result of the standoff.
Investigators said two calls were made to the 911 Emergency Operations Center about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Sergeant Hopkins said the first came from Cathleen Kling, Mr. Kling's wife. She was screaming for help, but the line went dead before an emergency dispatcher could get more information from her.
The second call came from a neighbor who told a dispatcher that a man was holding a weapon to a woman's head.
Deputies went to 5106 Buttermilk Road in Norrisville, about 20 miles northwest of Bel Air, where they reported finding Mr. Kling outside the house, holding his wife with one hand and pointing a shotgun at her with the other. They said they attempted to negotiate with him to release her.
Mr. Kling fired his shotgun once near his wife, the deputies said, but it was unclear whether he fired at her feet after threatening to shoot her in the foot or at the deputies, who were near the bottom of the driveway below the hillside home.
"During the entire incident, deputies said that Mr. Kling never stopped pointing the shotgun at his wife," Sergeant Hopkins said.
Mr. Kling was shot at 11:28 a.m. after pulling his wife into the doorway of the garage, pouring gasoline at her feet and threatening to ignite a cigarette lighter, authorities said.
Moments after the sheriff's marksman acknowledged that he understood he had a "green light," a single shot echoed through the trees and the standoff ended.
Mrs. Kling suffered minor injuries, Sergeant Hopkins said.
According to District Court records, the Klings have a history of domestic disputes. One pending case is scheduled for trial March 31.
Mrs. Kling charged her husband with battery in September, and he was barred by court order from the family home until, at Mrs. Kling's request, Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. amended the order in November.
Mr. Kling, an airplane mechanic at the Maryland National Guard's Weide Army Airfield in Aberdeen Proving Ground's Edgewood area, was considered "overall a good worker and was well-liked," said Capt. Hunt Kerrigan, a Guard spokesman in Baltimore.
Mr. Kling went to work Tuesday, apparently ordered a part, removed a panel from an aircraft and then told supervisors that he had to leave to take care of some personal business, Captain Kerrigan said.
"No one expected this kind of thing to happen," the captain said. "We're shocked and surprised. We obviously feel a lot of sympathy for the family."