Seth Beckman's family and friends acknowledged he made a bad decision the night of Aug. 17, part of a chain of events that ended with him losing his life after a fatal confrontation with a Harford County Sheriff's deputy, but they made it clear during his funeral Saturday that his 19 years on earth should not be defined by that moment.
"That moment at the BP station on Saturday night (Aug. 17), I don't want that to define my son, and I want his character to be what is portrayed, because that speaks for itself," his mother, Linda Beckman, told The Aegis after the service at Mountain Christian Church in Joppa.
Mr. Beckman, 19, died early Aug. 18 at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, several hours after he was shot by Harford County Deputy David Feeney, who confronted Mr. Beckman after he broke into the Sharon's Shaved Ice snowball stand next to the Rock Spring BP station at the intersection of Red Pump Road and Route 24 (Rock Spring Road).
Sheriff's Office officials have said Mr. Beckman also caused damage at the gas station, a nearby 7-Eleven and the Planet Fitness in the Rock Spring Shopping Center, and assaulted an acquaintance at the 7-Eleven.
Friends and family members, who described Mr. Beckman as quiet and only aggressive when playing sports, suspected he had been using a drug which altered his personality.
"That was not the Seth he had been for the last 19 years and I know that police officer did not leave for work that day planning to shoot a 19-year-old boy," Linda Beckman said. "It was a mistake and an unfortunate accident and I just want the young people to know, it could be you."
She stressed "one bad decision" did not define her son, and urged young people to learn from the tragedy and make good decisions.
"He was a good boy, a very good son, a very good friend, a very good listener," Linda Beckman said.
She also said Feeney and his family have been "in our thoughts and our prayers, as I'm sure we have been in his thoughts and his prayers."
The Beckman family, who live in the Brentwood Park community near Bel Air, are members of Mountain Christian.
About 350 people attended the funeral for Mr. Beckman Saturday, including those who played youth football with him through the Fallston Recreation Council, football at Fallston High School and rugby.
Many mourners, including Mr. Beckman's parents, aunt and sister, wore orange clothing in honor of his time on the Fallston rec and Fallston High teams.
Mr. Beckman's youth team won the national championship for its 8- to 10-year-old league, and his father, Glenn Beckman, noted he was the defensive Most Valuable Player.
Linda Beckman was also the team mom for the Fallston rec team, and Mr. Beckman's former teammates, some who served as pallbearers, surrounded his mother in a large group hug after the service.
Mr. Beckman's youth football coach, Mick Navin, spoke about the championship season, which he called an "enchanted time" for the players and their families, who became a close-knit group.
Navin said Mr. Beckman was not the largest, nor most talented on the field, but he excelled in his desire to improve, in teamwork, leadership and aggressive play.
"Seth played from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head, and I'll remember that every time I see a player who overachieves," Navin said.
Mr. Beckman was known for taking and giving hits to opposing players, at the youth and high school level, and his former teammates and coaches theorized that was why he enjoyed rugby so much in his later years.
In rugby, players do not wear pads or helmets, but the sport is full contact and footage can be seen online of players making no-holds-barred hits on ball carriers.
Jimmy Grant, one of Mr. Beckman's football coaches at Fallston High and his ninth grade government teacher, said people could recognize the player when "you'd be at practice and you'd hear a violent collision somewhere."
Grant said Mr. Beckman also "had a smile that could light up your classroom."
Mr. Beckman's father, his friends, Adam Sponsky and Nathan Cachiaras, his cousin, Alexandra Hermann, his aunt, Robin Wilkins, and his sister, Brittany, who is pregnant, also shared their memories during Saturday's service.
"I'm sad that he's gone but I'm much more happy that I got to know Seth and be his friend," said Sponsky, who attended Fallston High with Mr. Beckman and described him as extremely loyal and caring to his friends.
He said Mr. Beckman and their friends would hang out with him when Sponsky was working at Sharon's Shaved Ice, and thought Mr. Beckman was remembering those times when he went to the snowball stand on Aug. 17.
"Something told him he could go there and look for his buddies," Sponsky said.
Hermann noted she was not actually Mr. Beckman's cousin, but their mothers "grew up best friends."
"We're going to be the ones that go on today, telling of Seth and who he was," she told the assembled mourners.
Hermann came back to Mr. Beckman's decisions on Aug. 17, urging mourners, especially his young former teammates, to "remember why we're all here today."
"He wants you guys to live on, and live your lives to the fullest for him," she said.
Brittany Beckman remembered when her brother was born.
"I became Seth's big sister when I was 6 years old, and that was the happiest day of my life," she said.
Mr. Beckman's sister added: "God now has him, and that is the absolute best protection that anyone could ever have."
Mr. Beckman had been treated for depression, and his sister talked about her own struggles with anxiety and depression.
"Do not be ashamed of what you're going through, and seek help, because you never know," she said.
Finally, she asked "Uncle Seth" to watch over her and his unborn niece.
Glenn Beckman, who called his son a "compassionate warrior," talked about baptizing his son in Deer Creek at age 16.
"So Seth Jacob Beckman, my son, my only son, is in a better place, and that's not a cliche," the father said.
Glenn Beckman said his son was with God because of his choice.
"That choice was Jesus, plain and simple," he told the audience. "That's not a cliche, my friends."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun