1 killed, 2 hurt in county shooting

Business owners guarding against burglars fire on men

Criminal charges possible

March 20, 2001|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore man was shot and killed and two other men were wounded early yesterday when they encountered the armed owners of a Glyndon concrete plant during what police said was an attempted burglary.

The owners of Back River Supply Inc. -- brothers Dominic A. Geckle, 31, and Matthew J. Geckle, 36 -- were keeping an all-night vigil with shotguns after being burglarized Friday and Saturday nights, said Cpl. Vickie Warehime, a Baltimore County police spokeswoman.

Jonathan B. Steinbach, 24, of the first block of W. Biddle St. was pronounced dead at the scene. Steinbach was the owner of Midtown Tanning Salon in the 1000 block of Cathedral St. in Baltimore, and was in the process of starting a career in real estate, business associates said.

The two wounded men -- both Baltimore County residents in their 20s -- were being treated at local hospitals. Police were withholding their identities last night.

Police questioned the Geckle brothers for several hours yesterday and released them, pending an investigation by the Baltimore County state's attorney's office.

"It is still not known if the [three] were armed," Warehime said, adding that no weapons had been recovered as of last night. Police are trying to determine whether the three men are linked to the two earlier break-ins.

Warehime said police were called to the plant in the 12200 block of Owings Mills Blvd. about 1:20 a.m. after one of the brothers reported a shooting.

Steinbach and another man were found inside the plant. The third man had fled, but was admitted to Greater Baltimore Medical Center at 8 a.m. yesterday for treatment of gunshot wounds, Warehime said.

Saturday morning, Dominic Geckle reported that someone had entered the plant the previous night and stolen office equipment and tools, all valued at $8,600, according to the police report.

On Sunday, the Geckles reported that someone had stolen more office equipment and a .22-caliber rifle, all valued at $900, on Saturday night.

In yesterday's incident, at least one of the brothers apparently shot at the three intruders after a "nonphysical confrontation," said Bill Toohey, a police spokesman.

The state's attorney's office will investigate to determine whether criminal charges should be filed and whether the shooting was in self-defense.

Maryland law permits the use of deadly force in self-defense, to defend others, to protect one's property or when a person is in imminent danger of bodily harm or death and there is no way to escape, said Byron L. Warnken, a criminal law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Steinbach's death stunned business associates, who described him as a young professional headed for a lucrative career.

"It doesn't make any sense to me," said Steinbach's real estate agent, Craig Elliott. "He was definitely an entrepreneur trying to make a business for himself."

Elliott said Steinbach used to work for an architectural firm, but quit a few years ago to open his tanning business and launch a career in real estate. Steinbach grew up in Carroll County, but recently bought a $60,000 condominium on West Biddle Street and two Italian ice stands in East Baltimore, Elliott said.

Steinbach, who had no Maryland criminal record, was the father of a young son, friends said.

"This kid was on the ball ... smart, ambitious and very enterprising," said Nicholas Piscatelli, who owns the building that houses Steinbach's tanning salon.

The owners of businesses located next to the concrete plant expressed little sympathy for Steinbach yesterday. Frustrated by crime, they said they stand behind the Geckles.

"The guys deserve a medal," said Mark Caropreso, the owner of Mark's Motors Inc. "It sends a message out: You want to step on someone's property, you deserve everything you get."

Some legal scholars said yesterday that the Geckles might face charges.

"You have to honestly believe there is imminent danger -- right now -- to yourself or others," Warnken said.

Sun staff researcher Sarah Gehring contributed to this article.

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