Catonsville residents shocked by fatal police shooting

Residents along Winters Lane in Catonsville were shocked Wednesday morning to hear that a Baltimore County Police officer had been shot and killed in their neighborhood.

Officer Jason Schneider, 36, was inside a residence in the 1200 block of Winters Lane along with several other members of the police tactical unit, serving a search warrant, when he was shot around 5:30 a.m., according to Balitmore County Police.

Schneider, a 13-year veteran who had been with the unit since 2004, was shot several times, according to police. 

Police said he returned fire. A man at the house, whom police have not identified, was taken to the University of Maryland  Shock Trauma Center, where he is in critical condition, according to police.

Kathy Clark, who lives nearby at the corner of Winters Lane and Roberts Avenue, said she was awakened by loud, unfamiliar sounds this morning.

"When I woke up this morning, it was like 5:30 [a.m.], there was a boom," said Clark, 50. "It sounded like something exploded."

She said she looked outside and  saw Roberts Avenue lined with unfamiliar SUVs and a number of other vehicles.

"The whole street was full of cars," she said. "Like SWAT cars.

"I heard the noise and thought it was going to be a fire," Clark said. "About 10 minutes later, the ambulances came."

Since then, the street had been blocked by police, she said.

At 11 a.m., yellow police tape remained in place along the side of her house and across the intersection to block cars and pedestrians from turning down the side street near Baltimore National Pike, a short distance from the Baltimore Beltway exit.

Clark said she has lived in the Winters Lane community her entire life and has seen it go through many changes throughout that time.

She said incidents such as this morning's are isolated and don't cause her any more concerns than any other resident. "I know it's it's just isolated incidents. It's not the neighborhood," she said. 

"This neighborhood has its waves," she said. "It's targeted. People start selling drugs [because] they have nothing else to do.

"I feel safe," Clark said. 'It's not going to change the way I live."

Emma Pennington is founder and president of the Winters Lane Advisory Board, a community group dedicated to trying to “preserve the historic integrity of the community,” she said.

When she heard the news of Wednesday’s shooting, she was devastated.

“My goodness, my goodness, that is terrible,” Pennington said. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”

She has been living in the community for over 30 years, and she said she walks and jogs through the area on a daily basis. She has never felt any fear while doing so, but Wednesday’s incident had her shaken up.

“I have been a walker for a very long time, and I’ve walked by myself all the time in the evenings in the neighborhood,” Pennington said. “This is bringing me great concern that this would have happened in our neighborhood.

“I walked last night and I was on that same street [as the shooting],” she said. “It does give me pause.”

She said she has great respect for the county’s police officers and hopes that people everywhere, not just in Catonsville, will look at this incident as a learning opportunity.

“I’m sure that this officer has served us well,” Pennington said. “I feel very sorrowful that they [his family and the police] have experienced this loss.

“I am very, very concerned with how it seems to be a trend with how we devalue life,” she said. “It’s out problem to try to resolve. I wish we could work together better to have people be more sensitive to others.”

Cam Jordan also said the incident was extremely unusual for what is usually a quiet neighborhood.

"Not at all, not this," the 23-year-old resident said. "It's crazy.

He said he has lived in the area for his entire life. 

"My family is from Catonsville, I'm from Catonsville," Jordan said. 

"It was just a bad incident from what it sounds like this," he said. "Stuff like this doesn't happen often."

Ken Steinbach and his son, Scott Steinbach, own Caton Auto Clinic at 6013 Baltimore National Pike, a short distance from Winters Lane.

They said they get many of their customers from the surrounding neighborhood.

"I've been here since 1975," Ken Steinbach said. "We were here for times when it was been excellent to times when it got touchy to where it went back to excellent.

"All the people in this area are wonderful," he said. "Most Catonsville people, I don't care, black, white, orange or purple, they're great, great people."

He said they have seen isolated incidents like this one in the area before, but that for the most part, the Winters Lane community is peaceful and full of friendly people.

"We've enjoyed being in this location," he said. "We do not feel this to be an unstable neighborhood.

"There are a few bad eggs you run into in anything," Ken Steinbach said.

Scott Steinbach said he used to live on Winters Lane and that, overall, things like Wedesnday's incident do not happen.

"We had a couple of incidents that happened while I was living down here," he said. "But everything was taken care of.

Mike Cox, an employee at Caton Auto Clinic, lives on Lincoln Avenue next to the BP gas station on Baltimore National Pike a few blocks away.

He has lived there for just over a year and is shocked by the recent events.

"I saw all the ambulances this morning when I took my dog out," Cox said. "That's crazy, cops getting killed."

Cox said he thinks there are problems with drugs in the neighborhood and hopes nothing further happens as a result of Wednesday's shootings.

"I tell you what, that's going to start something," he said of the officer's death. "They've got drugs back there.

First District Councilman Tom Quirk also expressed his condolences for Wednesday’s incident.

“Obviously we’ve had some pretty aggressive police operations off Winters Lane,” Quirk said. “Not only in response to the recent shootings.

“I think we have an outstanding captain at the Wilkens precinct, Doug Irwin, and we have significant police resources,” he said. “Clearly we’re pushing back [against crime] hard.

“Unfortunately this morning, an officer was killed in the line of duty protecting the citizens of Baltimore County,” Quirk said.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz released a statement Wednesday responding to the incident.

"On behalf of the 817,000 residents of Baltimore County, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Tactical Officer Jason Schneider who was shot and killed this morning while doing what our police officers do fearlessly each and every day  -- protecting our Baltimore County neighborhoods," the statement said.

"To the men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department, please know that we appreciate your service and know that you are in great pain having lost a brother in arms this morning," the statement said. "I encourage everyone in Baltimore County to take a private moment today to remember Officer Schneider and his family.  He was one of Baltimore County's quiet heroes."

This story has been updated.


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