An Aberdeen man shot himself to death after a stand-off with police Friday in the Yacht Basin at Havre de Grace's Millard Tydings Park, near the steps leading to the park's popular playground and as people were starting to arrive for the Friday Concerts in the Park series.
Police agencies from Havre de Grace, Aberdeen and Elkton were told to be on the lookout for an "armed suicidal or homicidal suspect" driving from Elkton to Aberdeen at about 5:43 p.m., Jeff Gilpin, of the Havre de Grace Police, said Tuesday.
The man was ultimately identified as James Dean McCreary, 46, of the 200 block of Parke Street in Aberdeen, who also had a home in Elkton.
Gilpin said he had a lot of personal issues and made threats against his wife and family.
"They found some items at his Elkton residence that made [officers] think that the threats were real," Gilpin said.
Police tracked his cell phone location to Tydings Park, where he was found in a gray Ford pick-up truck, with a handgun, at the bottom of the steps by the playground, at 5:51 p.m.
About seven Havre de Grace officers arrived at the scene, and Aberdeen police as well as the Harford County Mobile Crisis team eventually showed up as well, Gilpin said.
Two officers tried to negotiate with him while others tried to clear the park, he said.
Most people dispersed, he said, although he noted some did not want to leave and wanted to videotape the incident.
Gilpin said McCreary picked up the handgun and held it to his chin on multiple occasions.
Police continued negotiating until 6:11 p.m., when he raised the weapon and fired one round at his chest.
Officers secured the weapon and tried to administerfirst aid.
McCreary was taken to Harford Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m.
Police found suicidal notes in the vehicle as well as in Elkton, Gilpin said.
The unusual event that lasted about 28 minutes took an emotional toll on the Havre de Grace Police Department, Gilpin said, and the Harford County Sheriff's Office offered its critical incident stress management team for Havre de Grace officers to use.
"One of us was very visibly shaken up," Gilpin said. "It was definitely a high-stress situation. He had a weapon. We didn't know what he was going to do… It's not every day that we encounter something like this."
Havre de Grace has some officers trained in negotiation, but none of them were available, and would not have had time to arrive on the scene if they were, he said.
"I think the situation was definitely unique in the area," he said. "There just wasn't any getting through to the guy…[Police] did the absolute best they could possibly do."