Two Harford County sheriff’s deputies were shot and a suspect shot and killed by police Wednesday afternoon in Abingdon, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
During a media briefing at the Boulevard at Box Hill, Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said two deputies had been shot, he believes by the same person.
“We fully suspect that both deputies were shot by the same suspect,” Gahler said.
One deputy was taken to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, the other was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He would not comment on the condition of either deputy.
“We’re not releasing any information on the officers condition at this time,” Gahler said.
Around 11:45 a.m., a deputy encountered a man in the Panera restaurant in the 3400 block of Merchant Boulevard. A shot was fired inside the restaurant and the suspect fled, Gahler said.
He said he was unsure of the nature of the call for the suspect, whether it was disorderly or “it was specific to him.”
Witnesses were able to provide good information on where the suspect fled, Gahler said, and a responding deputy found him at the bottom of the hill, by Box Hill South Parkway.
“A second deputy was hit by gunfire,” the sheriff said. “The suspect was shot by Harford County sheriff’s deputies and is deceased.
He said the entire incident evolved over about 15 minutes, but added the investigation is in the preliminary stages.
Other customers were in Panera, he said, and fortunately no one else was injured. Those customers were still being interviewed.
There is no danger to the community, the sheriff said.
“We are not looking at anyone else. We believe it’s an individual who’s no longer a threat to the community,” he said.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis went to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Wednesday to offer his support for the Harford sheriff’s deputies, a city police spokesman said.
“We’re just praying for the deputies and their families,” said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. “I can’t say much more … It’s too soon. I think later this afternoon or in the morning we’ll have a clearer picture.”
Bystanders saw and heard
Panera’s corporate office released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying, “The Panera Family is heartbroken over today’s incident at our Abingdon bakery-cafe. Our thoughts and actions now are directed towards the victims and their families. This location will remain closed as we work with law enforcement to investigate.”
Cecilia Weaver, from Bel Air, a Spanish teacher at Joppatowne High School, was working on “school stuff” inside the restaurant when she heard what sounded like a shot.
Everyone ran out the front door, Weaver, who didn’t see anything herself, said.
“It is one of those things you hear about happening on the news you don’t expect it down the street – I was doing normal human things,” she said.
Lynn Faulkner, from Fallston, was in Panera with her daughter, who was taking CPR training in the area.
“We were having brunch and went into Panera” since the kids were off from school, Faulkner said.
She said they saw a guy who looked like he’s homeless, disheveled. She said he’s seen him in there before.
To her, it looked like the cop was talking to the man and then shooting started, Faulkner said.
“It’s just not what we expected,” she said as her daughter, visibly emotional, talked to a crowd of media. “We were going to do a pancake supper tonight at the church and I’m not sure what we’re going to do about that.”
Sara Collins, a manager at the nearby Ocean City Brewing Co., said the restaurant was open at the time of the shooting and lunch guests were dining there. Others took refuge in the building.
“We had people that left on foot from Panera, people that fled the scene safely that were with us,” Collins said, adding those guests stayed in the building until they were allowed to retrieve their belongings from Panera.
Ocean City Brewing Co. closed after the shooting and sent staff home. As of 1:50 p.m. the parking lot at the shopping center was still closed. Collins said the restaurant could reopen later if the parking lot becomes accessible.
“It’s not something you expect on a Wednesday afternoon,” Collins said.
Nearby Wegmans tweeted around 1:30 p.m. that the shooting did not happen inside the grocery story, and issued the following statement: “Our hearts go out to those involved in shooting on property near our Abingdon MD store.”