Man, 24, arrested in shooting of mother

He barricades himself in home for 14 hours

February 27, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef and Alice Lukens | Nancy A. Youssef and Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City man barricaded himself in an apartment for nearly 14 hours yesterday after allegedly shooting his mother, drawing armored police with tear gas -- a show of force that ended with the discovery of the man lying in his bathtub.

The standoff began shortly after 2: 30 a.m. when, police said, Gwendolyn L. Hebron, 40, a well-liked Head Start program teacher in Howard County, called 911 and reported that her son had shot her several times in the apartment they shared on North Chatham Road in Ellicott City.

Two and a half hours after her 911 call, Hebron was rescued by tactical officers who climbed into the apartment through the bedroom window. She was flown by helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she was in critical but stable condition last night.

About 50 Howard County police officers and fire and rescue workers surrounded the brick apartment complex, evacuating about 80 residents and using bullhorns in an unsuccessful attempt to lure the man out.

Officers wearing gas masks shattered the windows of the apartment and threw in tear gas at least a half-dozen times, said Sgt. Steve Keller, a Howard County police spokesman. Once the man threw back a tear gas canister.

Police sent a robot into the apartment at midafternoon to survey it and try to find the man.

Television helicopters whirred overhead, and onlookers, kept a safe distance away, waited for the situation to end and to find out why someone would shoot Hebron, a teacher, churchgoer and longtime Howard County resident.

Suspect hospitalized

Police identified the suspect as Antwan C. Morgan, 24, a 1994 graduate of Wilde Lake High School in Columbia with no prior record. Morgan was being treated at Howard County General Hospital, apparently for exposure to tear gas and pepper gas fired at him before officers arrested him at 4: 15 p.m. No charges had been filed last night.

A church acquaintance of Hebron described Morgan as troubled.

His mother "did all she could for him but he thought she was trying to control him," said Barney Putnam, a member of Hopkins United Methodist Church in Highland. "I think he was in another world."

`He's not that type of kid'

Some neighbors and relatives said there were no warning signs.

"I don't understand it," said Robert Paige of Clarksville, who said he is Hebron's brother-in-law and Morgan's uncle and had lived with them for two years. "I mean, he's not that type of kid. He'll argue, but it never gets to that point. I don't know what prompted this."

He said Morgan did not seem depressed and that he liked to go to clubs and "just hang out with his friends."

`A lovely lady'

Mary Lou Marr, a neighbor in the apartment building, said Hebron seemed "like a lovely lady" and that Morgan "was a nice-looking young man" who "always seemed to be well-kept."

Police said they knew of no motive for the shooting. "We never spoke with him," said Sgt. Morris Carroll, spokesman for Howard County police.

Hebron is well known in Howard County, said Dorothy L. Moore, director of the county's Community Action Council and a distant relative, and the Rev. Mae E. Harrison, pastor of Hopkins United Methodist Church.

Moore said Hebron has been teaching preschoolers in the Head Start program for 15 years, most recently at the former Harriet Tubman High School in Atholton. Moore's agency supervises Head Start in Howard County and uses two classrooms in the former Tubman school, which is owned by the school system.

"She was a Head Start parent," Moore said, enrolling her son when he was a youngster. Later, Hebron received teacher training and took courses at Howard Community College and became a Head Start teacher.

"She's very energetic and raised her level of living," Moore said, describing Hebron as a "very firm, dependable, very outgoing" person who has "lots of friends."

Moore worried about how the trauma was affecting the Head Start teaching staff. "I've been almost a basket case," she said.

Harrison said Hebron is active in the church, singing in the choir, working with young people in the United Methodist Youth Fellowship program and participating in weekly Bible study classes.

"When we need someone, Gwen is there," said Harrison. "She's a very sweet person, very loving, somewhat shy but just a very friendly woman."

Sun staff writer Larry Carson contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 2/27/99

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