Harford County Sheriff’s deputies negotiated with a man who was reported to be armed and suicidal for about a half-hour prior to shooting and killing him after he advanced toward them Thursday morning.
Steve Huff, 58, of the 4400 block of Colt Lane in Havre de Grace, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies involved in the shooting, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cristie Hopkins declined to say how many deputies had fired their weapons until all information had been gathered.
“Any loss of life is tragic,” Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said in a statement. “Today, our deputies had to employ deadly force, a last resort for our personnel, and this action ended the life of a man who was struggling with thoughts of suicide, but sadly, his actions put other lives at risk.”
Patrol deputies assigned to the sheriff’s southern precinct were dispatched to the 4400 block of Colt Lane around 7:20 a.m. Thursday for a report of an armed, suicidal person, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Deputies encountered Huff in the driveway of the residence, armed with a handgun and making statements “consistent with suicide,” the sheriff’s office said.
After making initial contact and establishing a perimeter, deputies assigned to the Special Response Team arrived at the scene and assumed command.
Deputies attempted negotiation with Huff for approximately 30 minutes. “As a direct result of his threatening and escalating actions, which included him suddenly advancing towards the deputies, multiple deputies fired upon Huff for fear of their personal safety and that of the surrounding community,” according to the news release.
A medic deputy on scene immediately provided medical assistance to Huff, police said. No one else was injured during the incident.
Detectives from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division have assumed the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. Members of the Forensic Services Unit responded to the scene to collect and preserve physical evidence.
Once completed, the investigation will be forwarded to the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office for review.
Hopkins said all personnel who were on the scene will be interviewed and more information about the incident will be released after it has been gathered.
In his statement, Gahler cited the need for services to address mental health and the opening of the Harford County’s crisis center in Bel Air.
“Earlier this week, we attended the ribbon cutting of the new 24/7 crisis center in Harford County. Today is a sobering reminder of its great need,” he said.
The new Klein Family Harford Crisis Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A 24/7 Crisis Center Hotline is also available at 1-800-639-8783.
The last Harford Sheriff’s deputy-involved shooting took place in April 2016, when a Baltimore County police officer was shot during an armed standoff with deputies in the Bright Oaks community in Bel Air.
James Ward survived his injuries, but was found dead inside his home in August of that year from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.