ABINGDON, Md. (WJZ) — Heavy hearts in Harford County. Chaos erupts inside a crowded restaurant at lunchtime, spilling into the shopping center. Two two sheriff’s deputies are killed in the line of duty.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren with the latest on this tragedy.
It all started at the Panera in Abingdon. The sheriff’s deputy was targeted. He could never have imagined the chaos that would unravel when he went through the doors of the restaurant.
Now two veteran law enforcement officers are dead, and a community is searching for answers.
Flowers sit in the doorway at the Panera in Abingdon, where a nightmarish 15-minute shooting spree began just before noon Wednesday, ending with two Harford County sheriff’s deputies dead, along with the man who shot them.
“He certainly targeted them. The suspect certainly took that action because he was wearing a police uniform,” said Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, Harford County.
The sheriff says the shooter is 68-year-old David Evans. They were responding to a call about him.
WATCH: Sheriff Provides Update On Harford County Shooting
Lynn Faulkner and her daughter Sophia watched the horrifying violence unfold inside the packed restaurant.
“He just took out his gun and shot him in the head right after the officer just asked him, ‘How was your day?’” Sophia Faulkner said.
“All the people who were in there and witnessed this, in talking, think that it was probably a man who knew what he was doing with a gun because he shot directly into his head. I mean, the man did not have a chance,” said Lynn Faulkner.
Evans then fled the Panera, where he shot and killed the second deputy a short distance away.
At least two deputies fired shots at Evans, killing him.
Investigators found a loaded handgun near his body.
“He’s a frequent visitor in there. I’ve seen him myself in there. He kind of hangs there. He’s a homeless, disheveled man,” Lynn Faulkner said.
WJZ found Evans’ open warrant in Florida. Police say he assaulted an officer there, and had another open warrant in Harford County.
“And according to the waitresses–or the cashiers–in Panera, they said that he comes in there regularly, but he’s a bit sketchy and they’ve been trying to question him and get him some help,” said Sophia Faulkner.
The investigation into this tragedy is ongoing, as a community tries to understand why.
“They’re both two outstanding deputies who served the citizens of this county faithfully,” said Sheriff Gahler.
“We can hope and pray that the community will band together to give something back to those families—because it’s horrific,” Lynn Faulkner said.
Many people have come to the Panera to pay their respects Wednesday night.
The sheriff says it’s lucky that no customers of the store were injured.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman issued the following statement:
“Today was a terrible reminder that the men and women in law enforcement risk their lives on every call. We had an opportunity to visit the families to share our condolences on behalf of the citizens of Harford County. We know that both families face trying times ahead and we pray for their healing and comfort. As we grieve together in the spirit of community, let us also honor the service and sacrifice of these two fallen heroes.”
The flag of Harford County will be flown at half-staff in honor of the fallen deputies.