Harford officials believe Evans returned to the area to hurt estranged family

Harford Co. releases findings of investigation into deputy shootings, including audio recordings.

The man who shot and killed two Harford County sheriff's deputies last month was heavily armed and likely came to the area after living years out of state to hurt his estranged family, county investigators said Tuesday.

David Brian Evans, who fatally shot Deputies Patrick Dailey and Mark Logsdon on Feb. 10, used a fake Facebook page to search for information on his former wife and adult children, who live in Harford County and nearby, said Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler.

Gahler, speaking at a news conference announcing the results of the department's investigation into the deputies' shootings, said he believes Evans planned to "take some sort of action" against his former wife and possibly other family members.

"I've said many times since we lost Pat and Mark that through their loss, lives were saved," Gahler said.

Authorities say Evans, 68, fatally shot Dailey, 52, and Logsdon, 43, at a Panera Bread restaurant and nearby apartment complex in Abingdon before being killed by two deputies who returned gunfire.

He had long been suspected in the 1996 nonfatal shooting of his former wife, Elizabeth Rupp, outside her Abingdon home, but had eluded authorities for nearly two decades. Investigators believe he returned to the county as early as last summer after living for years in Florida.

Police said Tuesday that a .22-caliber rifle found in Evans' 2004 Ford Taurus at the scene of the shootout has been linked through ballistics testing to a round recovered from the 1996 shooting.

Officials found 2,700 rounds of ammunition and five guns in the vehicle in addition to the one he was carrying, Gahler said. All were purchased legally.

Evans bought the vehicle in Florida in 2005 and would switch the tags on it throughout the years, police said. He used a cellphone to search online for articles about how to commit bank robberies and how to tell if a vehicle is being tracked by a GPS device, police said.

Evans' eldest son, Jeremie Evans of Towson, said he believes his father killed the deputies because he would have finally been caught for the 1996 shooting.

"He robbed those officers' families of their husbands and fathers, all because he didn't want to go to jail," he said.

He called Dailey and Logsdon heroic.

"We're very, very thankful," he said. "There's nothing more … they could have done."

The deputies who shot Evans were identified publicly for the first time Tuesday as Deputies M. Anthony DeMarino and Thomas Wehrle.

The shooting has been ruled "entirely justified," State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly said.

"I commend them for their decision to quickly act," Cassilly said.

Gahler described Evans as a man who had been living largely "off the radar."

Rupp was shot in the neck as she got into her car outside her home the morning of Dec. 31, 1996. Evans was wanted for questioning but disappeared after the incident. Gahler said the sheriff's office never had probable cause to issue a warrant for his arrest.

Investigators believe Evans, a civil engineer, did not hold a steady job after 2004 and would pawn items for cash. He had at least two brushes with the law in Florida, both involving fleeing from police — one in 1999 and another in 2015. Because he was never charged in the 1996 shooting, Maryland authorities did not know about those incidents until recently.

Efforts by his family to find him failed, and a York County, Pa. judge declared him legally dead in March 2014 as part of an estate case.

He resurfaced in Harford County last summer, when Panera Bread employees first saw him at the restaurant, Gahler said.

He was clean-cut and tidy then — but he appeared a different man by December. Around then, Evans was seen digging in the trash, and would take uneaten apples and bread off customers' discarded plates, the sheriff said.

Evans and Rupp had three children. In recent months, the family was alarmed when they spotted him hanging out at Panera.

Jeremie Evans said he is frustrated that his father, who was abusive to his family, had access to firearms and eluded the police for so long.

"It's not the police officers' fault — it's the judicial system," he said.

County officials released documents and 911 tapes Tuesday connected to the shooting investigation, including some with chilling accounts from patrons at the Panera after the shooting of Dailey, and exchanges between responding deputies and dispatchers.

Rupp visited the sheriff's office and called authorities on Feb 10. One of the recordings released Tuesday was the 911 call she made that day.

"He's in that Panera Bread right now. He's been seen for two months. He hangs out there a lot; doesn't look like he's doing very well," she says.

"I'm going to have an officer dispatched over there to see if your ex-husband is still there. Just stay on the line with me please," the call-taker says, and the sound of typing can be heard.

In a later clip, Dailey's voice can be heard asking the dispatcher for more information about the 911 call, wanting to know if the suspect was outside the Panera or in a vehicle.

Dailey's last words over the air: "I'm with him; he's inside sitting down."

Jamie Harrell, a behavioral analyst from Dundalk, was having lunch at the Panera when Dailey appeared, approaching the table where Evans sat. Harrell recalled Tuesday that the deputy asked Evans to verify his identity, then asked him to step outside.

She said Evans dropped his hands beneath the table. "Sir, you need to keep your hands where I can see them," she recalled Dailey saying.

"Within a matter of five seconds, there was the pop of the shot and he was on the ground," Harrell said.

A recording of Harrell's 911 call was also among those released Tuesday: "I'm at the Panera Bread and an officer has just been shot in the eye by a man. I think he's done."

Gahler choked up several times during Tuesday's news conference. He said he wanted to provide answers to the community about what happened that day, but the investigation wrapping up will not mean closure.

"There's no 100 percent healing coming," Gahler said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Kevin Rector, Carrie Wells, Ian Duncan and Sean Welsh contributed to this article.

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