The day before Daniel Edward Hall, 19, was fatally wounded in an exchange of gunfire with Anne Arundel County police, a judge had signed an order committing him to a state hospital for psychiatric treatment.

Hall's family recalled yesterday they has sought help for him for two months. After his parents, Joseph and Mildred Hall, persuaded the judge on Tuesday to commit their son, a police officer went to the family home in Glen Burnie to pick him up, but he had disappeared.

On Wednesday, Hall allegedly held up a K mart store in a Pasadena, Md., shooping centre, fled into a wooded area, then shot and wounded two police officers who had spotted him. Minutes later Hall was fatally wounded in an exchange of shots with other offciers.

Hall's sister, Linda Humphrey, said yesterday him family had watched him go from straight A's in school to a "bad group of people" to drugs. Then, on Sunday, she said, Danny started getting violent."

Because he was 19 and an adult, his consent was required for psychiatric help, but Hall refused it, his sister said.

Polices said the complaint his parents submitted to General Distict Judge George Taylor on Tuesday said Hall "is thinking about killing all the police and guards anywhere. He is talking about committing suicide."

The judge signed the commitment order.

About 5 p.m. the following day, police said, Hall went to the K mart store at Jumpers Mall in Pasadena, asked to see a shotgun and loaded it with shells he took from his pocket, then demanded money from the cash register. He fled with some money, police said, and the shooting followed.

Yesterday, Hall's parents went to the two Baltimorehospitals where the two wounded police officers are being treated.

Officer Robert Lindsay, 28, in critical but stable condition with shoulder and neck wounds, and Officer Henry F Affeldt, 22, in satisfactory condition with wrist and forearm wounds, were unable to see them. Linda Humphrey said the Halls expressed their concern and sympathy to hospital administrators.

Himphrey, 26, said in a telephone interview the Halls had always been a close family. She traced her younger brother's problems to the family's move last July from Suitland to Glen Burnie. Daniel, who she said had never had a police record, entered Anne Arundel Community College and "got in with some bad people, drugs, speed."

"We've called hot lines. We'e talked to drug clinics. My parents took him away vacation in Florida" in an effort to help, Humphrey said.

Until they took her brother's problems to court, all their efforts were in vain, she said.

"The laws are not right," she said, because commitment was the family's only resort.

She said she hopes families of other troubled youths will learn from tragedy. "We can help and let people know what we went through," she said.