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News Maryland Harford County Forest Hill

Harford sheriff's deputy fatally shoots Bel Air man, 19, suspected of Rock Spring break-in

A Harford County sheriff's deputy fatally shot a 19-year-old Bel Air man late Saturday night on the parking lot of the BP gas station in the Rock Spring area just north of Bel Air, police said.

The victim has been identified as Seth Jacob Beckman, of the 1000 block of Peppard Drive. He was flown following the shooting to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he died at 1:10 a.m. Sunday, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said.

It was unclear what specifically led the deputy to shoot Beckman, but Sheriff's Office spokesman Edward Hopkins said he was seen allegedly being disorderly and disruptive in the hour leading up to the shooting.

Video surveillance the Sheriff's Office has obtained has shown Beckman was "acting irrationally," Hopkins said Monday.

"His behavior was just erratic," he said.

Meanwhile, the victim's father said Sunday afternoon that his son had battled depression but his actions, as described by police, were out of character.

"A number of events" began shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, when a disorderly person was reported in front of Planet Fitness in the Rock Spring Village Shopping Center off Route 24, according to Hopkins, who later said Beckman was damaging a sign at the business.

A short time later, the same man was reported allegedly being disorderly and disruptive inside the Bynum Road 7-Eleven.

A later news release from the sheriff's office said Beckman was "tearing up the store," and on his way out he allegedly assaulted a customer. Hopkins said Beckman knew the man, who said "hello," and Beckman allegedly punched him once in the face.

And shortly afterward, Hopkins said, a break-in was reported at Sharon's Shaved Ice, the snowball stand that's on the parking lot of the BP gas station at the intersection of Red Pump Road and Rock Spring Road (Route 24) just north of the Bel Air Bypass.

'Activity' inside building

When a sheriff's deputy pulled up to the scene at 10:43 p.m., he saw there was "activity" in the building, Hopkins said. The deputy saw someone moving and heard some noises.

The man came out and the deputy, because he was investigating a break-in, had his gun drawn, Hopkins said. Witnesses said the deputy ordered Beckman to come out and when he did an altercation ensued between the deputy and the suspect, during which Beckman was shot and wounded.

The deputy fired his gun at 10:44 p.m. and hit the suspect, Hopkins said.

"We don't know why the deputy fired," Hopkins said Saturday night.

Hopkins also said that between the time the was inside the 7-Eleven and the shooting, the same man went inside the store at the BP, where he was also allegedly loud and disorderly and "tearing it up as well."

"His behavior was overt and aggressive," Hopkins said.

Police rendered emergency medical care until paramedics from the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company arrived. They treated him and took Beckman by ambulance to Red Pump Elementary School, according to the Harford County Fire & EMS Association's media Facebook page. He was then flown to by State Police Medevac to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Hopkins said Sunday afternoon that Beckman's body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

The name of the deputy involved in the shooting had not been released as of Sunday evening. He was interviewed at the Northern Precinct station in Jarrettsville following the shooting, according to Hopkins.

The deputy, 43, is two-year member of the Harford County Sheriff's Office assigned to the Northern Precinct. He had been a corrections officer before becoming a deputy, Hopkins said Monday. In accordance with agency protocol he has been placed on administrative leave, according to the news release issued Sunday.

Deputies also interviewed witnesses and investigated at the scene well into the early morning hours Sunday.

In a follow-up news release issued just before 2:30 a.m. Hopkins wrote that deputies were originally en route to the 7-Eleven for the disorderly person call when they were rerouted to the BP and the break-in call.

"As the deputy arrived he observed the subject was inside the snowball stand and ordered the suspect to come out," Hopkins wrote. "During the encounter shots were fired at the suspect seriously wounding him."

Detectives noted that the area where the shooting occurred is a heavily traveled road and busy intersection, and they are asking that anyone in the area of Route 24 and Red Pump Road, who may have witnessed the incident or who has any information, to call Det. Andrew Lane at 410-836-5431.

'Aloof and confused'

Beckman lived about two miles from where he was shot. Eric Dupree of the Bel Air area was sitting with two friends in the McDonald's restaurant, across Red Pump Road from the gas station and the snowball stand, when he saw Beckman enter the restaurant around 10:40 p.m.

He spoke to a reporter several hours after the shooting, but before news of Beckman's death broke.

Dupree said Beckman, whom he had not seen for about a year, looked "really just aloof and confused" when he came into the McDonald's.

He said Beckman greeted him and ordered food, but did not eat it.

"He said, 'What's up Eric?' " Dupree recalled.

Dupree said Beckman left the McDonald's, and shortly after his departure, Dupree and his friends in the restaurant saw a quickly-growing number of police cars enter the lot of the BP station.

"I saw it escalate from the beginning," Dupree said of the law enforcement presence.

He said he did not hear any gunshots, though.

"He's a close friend of a close friend," Dupree said of Beckman. "That's why it's sort of shaken me up."

Left home on skateboard

Glenn Beckman, father of Seth Beckman, sat in his living room Sunday evening, with pictures of his late son. Beckman, his wife Linda and Seth's 26-year-old sister Brittany could also be seen in the photos.

The father said he last spoke to his son, who was a 2012 graduate of Fallston High School, around 2:30 p.m. Saturday before he left to visit friends.

"We were just talking small talk about TV shows," he recalled. "It was just causal talk."

Beckman said he later watched his son leave on a skateboard.

"I was just looking out the window, he was rising a skateboard down the street, heading to his friend's house," the elder Beckman said.

He said friends, family and fellow members of Mountain Christian Church in Joppa had been stopping by all day, bringing food and giving their support.

He said funeral arrangements have not been made yet, as the family is still waiting for the medical examiner's report.

Beckman said his son had struggled with depression in recent months and even stayed in the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Baltimore County for about 10 days.

He described the reported actions of his son leading up to the shooting Saturday night as out of character, though.

"Right now, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the police officer until the evidence shows that we may have to look at another direction," he said.

Please check back with http://www.exploreharford.com for updates.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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