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Harford police say they shot hostage taker after he shot his wife

The man who held his wife hostage near Bel Air for nearly 12 hours earlier this week, shot her in the abdomen around 9 a.m. Tuesday and was immediately shot and killed by members of the Harford County Sheriff's Office tactical unit, a Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

"It happened in a matter of seconds. Situations like that, they happen quickly," spokesman Edward Hopkins said Wednesday afternoon.

Sheriff's deputies involved in the rescue of Jamie Nicole Campbell, who are members of the Special Response Team, were placed on administrative leave pending further review of the incident.

As is the agency's policy, the names and assignments of tactical operators are not released, the Sheriff's Office said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.

Luis Arturo Hernandez Jr., 37, of the 9400 block of Perry Hall Boulevard in Perry Hall, had been holding Campbell, his wife, captive in her car on a dirt road near Cedar Lane Regional Park at the intersection of Routes 543 and 136 in the Creswell area, about five miles southeast Bel Air.

Police negotiators had been talking to Hernandez throughout the night but the situation escalated shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday, when police were told Hernandez had Campbell making phone calls "to say goodbye."

"It went from a wait and see patience situation to one where we had to engage quickly to prevent him from harming her and from him taking his own life, or trying to," Hopkins said.

Campbell, 28, of Hickory Limb Circle in Bel Air, was flown by Medevac to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore in critical condition with the single gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Campbell, whose condition has since been upgraded to serious, remained in the hospital Thursday afternoon.

"She will be able to testify to a number of things that were not evident to us," Hopkins said. "Information she has will be critical to us about his state of mind, conversations they had."

Detectives interviewed Campbell at shock trauma Wednesday, Cristie Kahler, public information specialist for the Sheriff's Office, said. Thursday.

The standoff with Hernandez began around 10 p.m. Monday, after deputies used the OnStar navigation system in Campbell's leased car to track her whereabouts.

She was reported missing around 8 p.m. Monday, when her mother called police to say she hadn't heard from her daughter and that she never showed up at the places where she said she would be running errands. Campbell was living with her mother on Hickory Limb Circle after getting a protective order against Hernandez, according to police investigators.

Hostage negotiators talked to Hernandez on and off throughout the night before the situation escalated, or deteriorated, "depending how you look at it," just before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

That's when police were told Campbell had been calling family members to say goodbye.

"It escalated to a more dangerous situation that it was earlier in the night," Hopkins said.

Within minutes of getting that information and in an effort to protect Campbell and prevent Hernandez from taking his own life, members of the Special Response Team "were authorized to execute an emergency assault," according to police. "They approached the suspect and as they did, shots were fired."

The police action was considered a rescue attempt, with a tactical team of officers in a situation "to rescue the victim without minimal harm to the victim and hopefully minimal harm to anybody," Hopkins said.

Hopkins said Tuesday's incident is the kind where "nobody walks away happy."

"On paper it was successful because even though she was injured, we rescued the victim without the loss of her life or of a police officer, but we still ask ourselves rhetorically if it was successful," Hopkins said.

To have been ultimately successful, he said, the victim would have walked away unhurt and the suspect would have been arrested.

The negotiators, who talked to Hernandez throughout the night, take his loss personally.

"They invest their heart and soul into trying to convince a person who doesn't want to be convinced to extricate themselves from a situation," Hopkins said. "They worked so hard to try and help the individual with the crisis in their life and give themselves up so they're not hurt."

The Hernandez shooting was the third fatal shooting involving Harford sheriff's deputies since last August, when a patrol deputy shot a 19-year-old who police said had broken into a closed snowball stand between Bel Air and Forest Hill. The following month, a 34-year-old Havre de Grace man was fatally shot during what police said was a barricade and hostage situation involving his live-in girlfriend. In both instances, neither man who died was armed.

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