Howard County native fatally shot in Fla.

April 03, 2009|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

A 26-year-old Howard County native was shot and killed in an apparent murder-suicide in South Florida over the weekend, police said.

Matthew Lennon, a 2000 graduate of Centennial High School who had moved to Florida two years ago, was shot once in the chest by a man who believed Lennon had assaulted a mutual friend, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office. The incident occurred about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Police said Lennon and friend Jack Benrube stopped by an apartment in Dania Beach after spending the evening watching college basketball at a bar. During the visit, Benrube suffered an asthma attack and was crawling across the floor to get to a balcony for some air, police said. The apartment occupant, Joseph Blanco, mistakenly thought Lennon had attacked Benrube.

Blanco fired a shot from a Glock revolver that struck Benrube on the arm before firing a shot that struck Lennon, police said. Blanco then turned the gun on himself. Blanco and Lennon died at the scene, and Benrube was treated at a hospital and released.

Last summer, Lennon graduated from Florida International University with a degree in finance, family members said. He went to FIU after getting an associate's degree at Howard Community College while working at a Home Depot in Ellicott City. He also worked at a Home Depot in the Miami area.

"He was a great kid," said his mother, Susan, who lives in Ellicott City. "He was very conscientious. He was a hard worker."

Lennon's father, Norman Lennon, a homebuilder who lives in Sykesville, said his son was the first family member to graduate from college. "I wanted him to come back home, but he said he liked it down there." Viewings are scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Witzke Funeral Home, 4112 Old Columbia Pike in Ellicott City. A viewing from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday will be followed by a memorial service.

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