Two Harford County sheriff’s deputies were killed in Maryland on Wednesday by an armed man who entered a Panera Bread restaurant at lunchtime.
The gunman was fatally shot by authorities after he shot the two deputies.
Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler announced the deaths of two members of his department Wednesday afternoon.
“They’re both two outstanding deputies who served the citizens of this county for 16 and 30 years respectively,” Gahler said.
He did not identify the deputies because he said their extended families had not been notified.
The sheriff’s office identified the armed man as David Brian Evans, 67. They said that he was wanted on a warrant from Florida for assaulting a police officer there, as well as on a civil writ issued in Harford County.
Gahler said Evans entered a Panera in Abingdon during the busy lunchtime rush Wednesday. At 11:46 a.m., someone called the police to say that a man was behaving suspiciously in the restaurant.
When a deputy arrived, Evans shot the deputy and then ran out the door.
“I think the suspect took that action because he was wearing a police uniform,” Gahler said of the deputy who was shot. “He certainly targeted him.”
People who saw Evans running away pointed authorities in the right direction, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cristie Kahler said.
Gahler said that a deputy found Evans almost immediately, down the hill from the restaurant. Evans then shot that deputy.
The next two deputies who arrived then fired at the gunman, fatally wounding him. Both of those deputies have been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates the shooting.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a statement Wednesday night about the deputies’ deaths.
“Today’s violence in Abingdon and the deaths of two Harford County sheriff’s deputies is nothing less than absolutely heartbreaking,” he said. “The First Lady and I send our most sincere thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones of the brave deputies who made the ultimate sacrifice today for the community they selflessly served.
“It is my hope that their commitment and dedication to law enforcement and protecting others will be remembered and will forever serve as an inspiration to others,” Hogan said.
Gahler said that no one inside the Panera, which was full of lunchtime diners, was hurt. He said authorities interviewed everyone in the restaurant before allowing them to leave.
He said that the sheriff’s office has had contact with Evans before, but he did not provide further information.
Maryland lost three officers in the line of duty in 2015, and Virginia lost one, according to statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The organization, which said that 124 officers nationwide died in the line of duty in 2015, said that 42 of those officers were shot. Traffic fatalities accounted for 35 of the remaining deaths.
Julie Tate contributed to this report.