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Shoppers shaken when two Harford sheriff's deputies were shot and returned fire at man in Abingdon

Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler talks about the shooting earlier this morning, and witnesses describe the scene from inside the restaurant. (David Anderson, Bryna Zumer and Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)

Lynn Faulkner and her daughter Sophia were having lunch on a snow day at Panera Bread restaurant in Abingdon just before noon Wednesday when Sophia heard what she thought was glass breaking.

Then the 15-year-old turned and saw a sheriff's deputy shot in the head. She said she froze as she tried to process what was happening.

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"There were all these little kids running around and screaming," Sophia Faulkner said. "I really didn't know what to do."

Authorities said David Brian Evans, 68, who was wanted on warrants in Harford County and Florida, shot and killed the deputy, then ran out. Witnesses gave other deputies a description of the gunman and told them which way he went, Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said.

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Deputies caught up with Evans at the bottom of a hill near an apartment complex, and shots were exchanged, the sheriff said. When the gunfire ended, another sheriff's deputy had been shot, along with Evans. Both died of their injuries.

The shootings took place at a busy commercial intersection off Interstate 95 in suburban Abingdon, near Bel Air. The Boulevard at Box Hill shopping plaza, anchored by a Wegmans grocery, includes Panera Bread and other restaurants, a spa and shops.

No bystanders were hurt.

Harford County public schools had closed for the day after overnight precipitation left icy conditions in some areas.

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The shopping center was busy at the time of the shootings.

Sophia Faulkner, a student at Fallston High School, said she and her mother almost sat next to the gunman but chose another booth because the man appeared "sketchy" and disheveled, and hadn't ordered any food. Lynn Faulkner said she had seen him in the restaurant before and at an area library.

They made it out of the restaurant, and Sophia said she watched people perform CPR on the deputy.

"I was freaking out so much, and everybody was running to one side of the store. Families were huddling together. I didn't really know what was going on," she said. "You see this stuff online and in movies and on TV when it happens, but you never think you're going to go out to lunch one day with your mom, and it's just going to happen."

Lynn Faulkner, a registered nurse, said she believes Evans "never should have had a gun."

"He knew what he was doing, because he shot right for the head," she said. "Apparently, the policeman tried to come up to him, 'Hi, how are you doing' — he's living in this store — and, 'Can you try to move on?' or 'Why are you here today?' and that's when he immediately pulled out the gun and shot him."

The Panera Bread and the Ocean City Brewing Co. next door were blocked off with yellow crime tape Wednesday afternoon. Harford sheriff's office and Havre de Grace police vehicles were blocking traffic along the driveways and traffic circles leading to the shooting scene.

Sara Collins, a manager at Ocean City Brewing, said the restaurant was open at the time of the shooting and lunch guests were eating. Others took refuge in the building.

"We had people that left on foot from Panera, people that fled the scene safely that were with us," Collins said, adding that those people stayed in the building until they were allowed to retrieve their belongings from Panera.

Ocean City Brewing closed after the shooting and sent staff members home.

"It's not something you expect on a Wednesday afternoon," Collins said.

Cecilia Weaver, 23, a Spanish teacher at Joppatowne High School, was with a friend and working on "school stuff" in Panera when she heard what sounded like a shot.

Everyone ran out the front door, said Weaver, who didn't see the shooting.

"It is one of those things you hear about happening on the news [but] you don't expect it down the street," she said. "I was doing normal human things."

Rod Solle of Bel Air was driving on Route 924 when he received a text message about the shooting from his sister. He said he was concerned because his daughter had worked at Panera previously.

"I was coming this way anyway, so I pulled in," Solle said, while watching deputies and other law enforcement personnel investigating at the scene.

"Normally, this side of the county, you don't see too many shootings that I'm aware of," he said. "It's interesting that things are turning that way these days, especially when it's out in public, restaurants and things like that."

Panera's corporate office released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying the location would remain closed "as we work with law enforcement to investigate."

"The Panera Family is heartbroken over today's incident at our Abingdon bakery-cafe," the statement said. "Our thoughts and actions now are directed toward the victims and their families."

Nearby Wegmans tweeted that the shooting did not happen inside the grocery store, and said in a statement: "Our hearts go out to those involved."

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Erika Butler, David Anderson, Tim Prudente, Sarah Meehan and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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