A Baltimore City police officer shot and killed a firefighter and his girlfriend early Sunday morning, before turning the gun on himself, according to Anne Arundel County police.
The suspected murder-suicide — which police said stemmed from a love triangle — disturbed many on the suburban Glen Burnie street where firefighter Andrew Scott Hoffman, 27, lived, and sent the Baltimore Fire Department into mourning.
"That was my best friend," said an emotional Fred Scheper, 29, of Pasadena, who came to the neighborhood after he heard of the shooting. "I've known him for 23 years. It's very shocking. He was a great guy. He saved people's lives every day."
Police say Baltimore Police Officer Christopher Lee Robinson, 37, of Abingdon, entered Hoffman's home armed with a gun, and shot the firefighter and his girlfriend, Marie Leanne Edith Hartman, 26, of Glen Burnie, around 1:35 a.m.
Hoffman, who grew up in the area and attended Glen Burnie High School, had recently begun dating Hartman, Scheper said.
"He was the happiest I've even seen him in his life in the past two months with the new girlfriend," he said.
Lt. T.J. Smith, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel police, said investigators probing the killings were "able to quickly determine this was a domestic-related murder-suicide."
"There is no public threat in this area. We don't have any outstanding suspects. We don't have any concerns for public safety," he said. "This is an absolute tragedy. Two young people in their twenties were the victims of this."
Dee Beatty, a family friend of Hartman's mother in Glen Burnie, said Hartman previously dated Robinson.
"She broke up with him and started dating the firefighter," she said. Beatty said Robinson had "stalked her everywhere."
Beatty said Hartman, who aspired to one day become a police officer, leaves behind a young son.
"Marie was an excellent mother," she said. "She was a beautiful girl. She was kind and caring and loving and she would help anybody. The sad part is a cop killed her and all she wanted to be was a cop."
Police said both Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis responded to the scene.
Baltimore police officials said they'd begun an "immediate review" to see if "more can be done to help those returning to civilian life from military deployments," but declined to provide details of any military background Robinson had.
"While at present there are no indications that a military deployment was the cause of this incident, this department recognizes the tremendous sacrifice made by the men and women who serve in the military," city police said in the statement. "The BPD is committed to ensuring that those men and women are given all the assistance they require when they return home."
Smith said officers were going door-to-door in the area, informing neighbors of the crime.
"It's a shock to the community," he said. "Our investigators are still working this case to determine what occurred that led to this situation."
Smith said county officials removed Hoffman's dog from the home.
Neighbor Phil Sperlein, 58, said he was awakened by commotion around 1:30 a.m. — when he saw a street full of police cars and officers "running around, yelling."
He described Hoffman has a "nice kid," who was "gregarious" and used to have friends over to play horseshoes. He said Hartman had been over at the house a lot in recent weeks.
"It's sad to say, but the gun culture that we got nowadays, everybody wants to solve their problems at the end of a pipe," Sperlein said. "I've got a temper, so I know I shouldn't own a gun. ... It was all over a woman. I don't get it."
Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal issued a statement regarding Hoffman's death, noting he was a "third-generation member of the fire department" who had been with the city department since 2006.
"We offer sincere condolences to the Hoffman family as they grieve this terrible loss. They are in the thoughts of every member of the Baltimore City Fire Department today," Segal said.
Segal noted that this summer, Hoffman was credited with helping to reunite a 3-year-old toddler who had wandered from his home in Anne Arundel with his family.
Hoffman had discovered Paul Marshall Jr. along the streets of Linthicum at 3:45 a.m. on July 23. "It kind of startled me. " Hoffman told The Sun. "I got him and asked him, 'What's the matter, buddy? Where do you live?' And all he could do was point up the road."
Hoffman and police tracked down the youngster's house. The boy's father, Paul Marshall, later thanked Hoffman, saying, "This really scared us thinking everything that could have happened."
The department's Fire Boat Station flew its flag at half-mast in mourning of Hoffman's death. The Hollins Street station, where Hoffman served, had black material draping the building front on Sunday afternoon.
In a statement, the Baltimore Police Department gave its "deepest sympathies to the families, loved ones and friends of whose who died in this terrible incident."
"Those left behind have suffered an immeasurable loss and will be in the collective thoughts and prayers of the members of the Baltimore Police Department," the statement said.
It was the second time this year a Baltimore Police Officer, accused of a domestic violence homicide, has taken his own life, authorities said. In August, officer James Walton Smith, 49, awaiting trial for murder in the death of his fiancee, died in an apparent suicide in jail.
At the scene of the Glen Burnie killings — in the 1100 block of Armistead Road — neighbors said they were "shaking" that such violence could take place near their homes.
Scheper choked back tears as he talked about the death of his longtime friend.
"It's so tragic," he said. "I don't even have any words. Me and Andy were the closest, and now he's gone. I don't know why this guy would do this. To kill somebody and then take your own life, to me you're a frickin' coward."
Scheper said when he first heard the news, he couldn't believe it.
"I thought it was fake," he said. "It's hit me, but it ain't hit me. I feel like he's still going to call me in a little bit, but that's not going to happen."