Police: Musician was on bed, refused to comply before shooting

Spokesman says Steve Mach refused to drop pellet gun

October 05, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

The 52-year-old musician who was fatally shot by a Baltimore police officer Sunday night was sitting on his bed at the time and had refused to drop a weapon that turned out to be a pellet gun, according to the Police Department.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said officers were called to Steve Mach's home in the 3600 block of St. Victor St. after his roommate called police to report that Mach was armed. The roommate said he was fearful for his own safety.

Officers entered the home and went upstairs, where they found Mach sitting on his bed, Guglielmi said. The officers demanded that he drop a weapon he was holding — police describe it as a pellet gun that resembled a .45-caliber handgun — and fired at least one shot when he refused to comply.

"You have to follow police commands, especially when you're holding a weapon in your hands," Guglielmi said.

Police identified the officer who shot Mach as Joseph Schanamann, a four-year veteran who officials said had been involved in a shooting in 2009, when he shot a police dog that attacked him, according to reports at the time. Schanamann is on routine administrative suspension as detectives investigate the shooting.

There's been an outpouring of grief among friends of Mach, stretching from Baltimore to New York City, where he worked for years as a lighting technician at the famed CBGB rock club. Before that, he played in a few glam-rock bands, including a local group called The Vamps.

"It's a shock to us all," said Jackie Luther, who worked with Mach at CBGB. "He was a very gentle person. I can't see this happening — it's very out of character."

Luther said Mach had moved back to Baltimore a few years ago after the death of his mother. He was an animal activist who worked with BARCS, the South Baltimore animal rescue shelter, and owned several cats, she said. He did not have a criminal record here.

This year, police have shot 11 people in six incidents, killing three. That's down from a peak of 33 police shootings in 2007.


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