Harford neighborhood returns to normal after single gunshot from police ends in death

Louanne Harvey and her companion, Mark Schorah, were having a yard sale in front of their home on Juniata Street in Havre de Grace early Sunday afternoon, just across from the intersection with the 700 block of Erie Street.

Sixteen hours earlier, the normally quiet neighborhood, just north and west of the city's downtown, was under siege.

Police said a man barricaded himself in an apartment on Erie Street, taking a hostage following some sort of altercation and was reported to be in possession of a firearm. The hostage was released unharmed, but a Harford County Sheriff's Office's Special Response Team member shot to death 34-year-old Austin Francis Jones around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, after police said they believed Jones had raised a weapon at them during negotiations.

Harvey and Schorah recalled the events of the day before, when law enforcement officers could be seen throughout Erie Street and the parallel alley to the south, Hoppers Lane, in a section of the city settled a century ago by first and second generation Italian immigrant families.

The two said a helicopter hovered overhead, while police cars blocked Erie and Hoppers at Juniata.

"All of a sudden I heard just one shot," Schorah said.

He said at first he thought the noise also could have also been the bang of a flash grenade, often used by SWAT officers to stun the occupants of a room they are entering.

Harvey said she knew Jones and baby-sat him when he was a child.

"He was a good little kid," she recalled. "He was kind of quiet back then."

Schorah said the neighborhood is typically quiet, other than the occasional traffic accident or flooding from Lilly Run, the stream that flows under part of Juniata Street to the nearby Susquehanna River. He said the stream flows under Juniata, and water comes up through storm drains during hurricanes or heavy rainstorms.

"It just starts filling up like a bowl," he explained.

With the sun shining outside and the Ravens playing (and losing) in Buffalo, the 700 block of Erie was quiet Sunday, with no noticeable after-effects of the previous evening's mayhem.

There was no yellow crime scene tape outside the white, three-story house toward the middle of the block which has been subdivided into several apartments, including the one where Jones barricaded himself inside Saturday and was later shot.

A Havre de Grace city police car turned into the block where the shooting occurred but kept on going up the slight hill past the house and toward the river.

Two detectives with the Sheriff's Office, Det. Joseph Peters and Det. Aaron Huch, who declined to give his first name, were out canvassing the surrounding homes, speaking to residents.

Neighbors in the block declined to discuss the shooting, as did several other people who identified themselves as relatives of Jones and who said they were reluctant to speak with the press, citing the ongoing investigation.

Other than the comments from Harvey and police statements, little additional information was available about Jones on Sunday.

He had previously been convicted of second-degree assault, according to Maryland online court records, and was under indictment for allegedly possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. That case was due to be tried in November.

Police also said a protective order had been issued previously against Jones in connection with an incident involving an unidentified female who lives in the building where Jones was shot.

The shooting remains under investigation by Harford County Sheriff's Office detectives.

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