Craig Phillip Klein, 31, avid hunter, police officer with Baltimore City force

November 19, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Craig Phillip Klein liked working with his hands and as the son of a contractor - a son who helped build many a home - he could have become a builder himself.

But he wanted to help people. So he joined the city police force four years ago, and began commuting from the bucolic setting of the farmhouse in Monkton where he lived with his father and stepmother to a job patrolling the streets of the Eastern District.

Officer Klein, who was 31, was killed Saturday night when his northbound Harley-Davidson motorcycle crossed the center line of Earls Road in Chase and collided with a southbound Dodge Intrepid near Ebenezer Road, according to Baltimore County police.

A friend, Kenneth Todd Szymusiak, 32, of Bel Air, who was also riding a motorcycle, was seriously injured when he struck Officer Klein's motorcycle. Mr. Szymusiak was thrown from his motorcycle and landed on another southbound car, police said. Neither of the automobile drivers was hurt.

As Officer Klein's family, friends and colleagues mourned his death yesterday, they remembered a man who enjoyed his work and looked forward to one day raising a family in a house in Kingsville that he had bought Friday.

"He was really excited about the house," said Phillip H. Klein, the officer's father. "He loved his family and he looked forward to having a family of his own someday."

Officer Klein had asked to be assigned to the Eastern District because he "thought that was where the people were who needed the most help," said his stepsister, Amy Clayton of Fork.

At the time of his death, Officer Klein was assigned to duties in the district's property room, according to the Police Department.

Fellow officers were informed of his death at yesterday morning's roll call. "People are kind of shaken and upset about it," said Lt. Mark Matysek, an Eastern shift commander. "He was a good officer. He was one of those people who came in and did a good job every day."

Officer Klein shot and killed a drug suspect Feb. 5 last year, during a struggle in an alley near the 1600 block of Federal St. - an incident that shook Officer Klein emotionally, his father said. "I think that it gave him an awakening. It touched an emotional side because he didn't want to talk about it."

Officer Klein was raised in Fullerton and Hydes and was a 1988 graduate of Loch Raven High School. After a few years with his father's contracting firm, he worked for Apria Healthcare, delivering oxygen and other medical supplies to patients at their homes.

Before joining the city police, he volunteered as an aide with the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

He was an avid deer and duck hunter and occasionally traveled to Montana to hunt with longtime family friends who lived there, according to his father.

Funeral arrangements were being planned yesterday through Lassahn Funeral Home in Kingsville. A Mass of Christian burial is tentatively scheduled for Friday morning at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Fullerton, where Officer Klein was a congregant.

In addition to father and stepsister, he is survived by his mother, Mary Yvonne Clayton of Joppa; his stepfather, John Clayton of Joppa; his stepmother, Barbara Lynn Klein of Monkton; a brother, Phillip H. Klein Jr. of Darlington; a sister, Karen Mentzel of Abingdon; two stepbrothers, John Clayton and Thomas Clayton, both of Fork; and two nieces.

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