Rural Harford neighborhood in shock following murder-suicide

Neighbors said they were shocked by the deaths of a northern Harford County couple who were found shot to death Monday in what police say was an apparent murder-suicide.

One man who lives near the dead couple's home in the 1500 block of Robinson Mill Road said both victims and their young child had attended a neighborhood cookout just hours before their deaths.

Deputies found Sandra Marie Kerner, 40, dead inside the home after responding to a call for a suicide at about 7:30 a.m. Monday, according to a Harford County Sheriff's Office statement. Family members were on the scene when deputies arrived.

According to the statement, the preliminary investigation showed Kerner was shot by her boyfriend, Brian Wesley Gordon, 34, sometime overnight. Gordon later left the home and used a firearm to kill himself, the Sheriff's Office said.

An infant girl was in the home at the time of the shooting and was taken to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air for injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the statement.

Cristie Kahler, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office, said Tuesday that investigators have not found a motive for the shootings.

Both Kerner and Gordon lived at the home, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Several vehicles were parked near the home Monday evening. Nearby were some agricultural buildings, and a few chickens and a rooster walked over grass that had recently been mowed. Broad Creek flows by the Gordon home.

The neighborhood, which is just off busy Route 136, about four miles southeast of Whiteford, was quiet except for the occasional vehicle driving along the asphalt road, which turns to gravel near the Gordon property.

Gordon's neighbors across Robinson Mill Road, who declined to give their names, expressed shock over the homicide and suicide. One man said he had been at the barbecue Sunday night with Gordon, Kerner and their child.

"Everything seemed to be going smooth," he said.

He said the couple left the barbecue around 8:45 p.m. When the man came home around 9:30 a.m. Monday, the normally quiet road was filled with police cars.

"I just saw a whole bunch of cop cars down there," he recalled. "I had no idea what was going on. We were all hanging out last night for a good three hours."

The neighbor described a close friendship with Gordon, whom he said his family has known since the uncle sold his farmland to Gordon nearly seven years ago.

The 17-acre property was sold to Gordon in October 2007, according to state property tax records.

The neighbor said he and Gordon rode motorcycles together. He also helped Gordon build a chicken coop and put up his hay.

"Brian was a great guy," the neighbor said. "He'd do anything for you."

The deaths were the second and third violent deaths in Street this month. On Aug. 4, a man was killed inside his home in what the Sheriff's Office said it believes was a robbery.

Three other violent deaths in Harford County this year have involved domestic situations, including one in May when police shot to death a man who was holding his estranged wife hostage a gunpoint in a park; one in June in which a woman has been accused of shooting to death her live-in boyfriend; and one in January in which a man has been charged with stabbing to death his mother in their Forest Hill home.

Aegis staff member Bryna Zumer contributed to this story.

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