Neighbors question police need to shoot

Balto. County woman killed in daylong standoff

September 08, 1999|By Dail Willis and Dan Thanh Dang | Dail Willis and Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County police yesterday offered new details of Monday's daylong standoff in Rodgers Forge that ended with an officer fatally shooting a 40-year-old woman armed with a rifle and barricaded in her bedroom.

The details emerged as residents of the quiet neighborhood questioned why the shooting had to occur at all, and children at nearby Dumbarton Middle School carried home letters about the death of Tambra W. Eddinger, whose son Jonathan Walters attends the school.

Eddinger, who shared the Rodgers Forge rowhouse in the 300 block of Dumbarton Road with her husband and two children from her previous marriage, was shot three times in the chest by tactical team officer Robert O. Jones, county police said yesterday.

Jones has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation of the shooting is completed, said police spokeswoman Cpl. Vickie Warehime. Warehime said the investigation had not yet determined whether Eddinger pointed the gun at officers or whether the .22-caliber rifle was loaded. But the spokeswoman said the officers did not act hastily or casually.

"The officer was in fear of his life," Warehime said yesterday.

Warehime said that the officers had entered the house after tear gas, a non-lethal weapon that shoots beanbags and "flash-bang" devices failed to resolve the situation.

When officers arrived at the rowhouse about 4 a.m., Eddinger appeared to be intoxicated, Warehime said. As the day wore on, Eddinger became increasingly upset and incoherent, Warehime said.

"She's armed, she's not thinking clearly," Warehime said, recounting the chronology of events. Officers at the scene knew that Eddinger, a hairdresser originally from Louisiana, had recently refilled a prescription for anti-depressants, Warehime said, and were concerned that she might have mixed drugs and alcohol.

At 4 p.m., officers sent a new round of tear gas into the house, but it didn't budge Eddinger. Then they entered the house.

"They work their way upstairs. The whole time, they're calling out to her, `Police. Just come on out. We're not here to hurt you,'" Warehime said.

Eddinger appeared briefly at the top of the stairs, gun in hand, and then locked herself into the master bedroom. Officers broke down the top of the door with a hammer, Warehime said, and saw Eddinger holding the rifle. When they ordered her to drop it, she turned toward them -- and Jones fired, hitting her three times, Warehime said.

Some residents yesterday were asking whether police had another choice.

"Most of the people here thought they didn't have to kill her. She was one woman in the house they have the SWAT team and canines," said Michelle Lane, a nurse at St. Joseph Medical Center who lives across the street from the Eddinger house. "Did they really have to come in and shoot her three times in the chest? They knew it would kill her."

Court records indicate that police had been called to the house on Friday for a domestic dispute. Records show it began when Eddinger came home intoxicated and was locked out -- so she got a jigsaw and began trying to cut through the door. When her husband let her in, she scratched him and pulled his hair, court documents show, and he called police.

Eddinger was arrested and charged in that incident with second-degree assault, according to court records. When she returned home over the weekend, the fighting apparently began anew.

Pub Date: 9/08/99

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