BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — A three-year-old boy was allegedly killed by his suicidal father in Bel Air Thursday, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office is continuing its investigation Friday into what led to the apparent murder-suicide.
Jason Douglas DeWitt, 38, and his three-year-old son Grayson DeWitt were found dead inside a bedroom of a home in the 600 block of High Plain Drive late Thursday after police attempted for hours to make contact with someone inside the home.
Additional information regarding the High Plain Drive incident from last night. The homicide-suicide involved a 3-year-old boy. pic.twitter.com/4taHFkXnAh
— Harford Sheriff (@Harford_Sheriff) October 16, 2020
Officers were called to the home around 5:45 p.m. Thursday after a call about a suicidal person. Police tried to establish contact with the person for several hours and they eventually made entry into the home.
But there was a handwritten note indicating explosives could detonate if the search continued. Deputies left the home and evacuated neighbors.
Around 11:30 p.m., with the help of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, deputies re-entered the home to find the father and son dead inside a bedroom. They were both suffering from gunshot wounds to the body.
The area of High Plain Drive and Tollgate Road was shut down during the incident overnight. The scene was clear by Friday morning.
Investigators are ruling this a homicide-suicide at this time, but they are still investigating the fatal shooting.
Officials said DeWitt did not have a criminal record and there were no prior calls to the house.
“The answers probably aren’t going to come — the ‘why’, because there’s no reason to take the life of a three-year-old child,” Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said.
Neighbors got together Friday to grieve the tragedy that hit so close to home.
“I can’t say I’ve fully processed what’s going on here, right? I mean, how do you explain to a 5-year-old that her friend died?” a neighbor named Andy said.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he added.
Jessica Byrne, another neighbor, said a lot of kids live in the neighborhood. Her kids played with Grayson several times.
“I can’t imagine someone would want to do that do their kid. I mean, I have two kids. I don’t understand it,” she said.
Andy said he never had any reason to believe Jason had harmed Greyson before Thursday.
“I don’t know what has to flip in your mind that you go from your parental instincts of protection to the opposite,” he said.
The adults and children alike are trying to come to grips with what happened.
“We want (the kids) to share their feelings because we’re really not sure how they’re processing it,” Byrne said.
If you’re thinking about taking your own life and need help, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
No further details are being released at this time. Anyone with information is asked to call the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division at 410-836-5442.