Nearly five months ago, members of the Harford County Sheriff's Office gathered in the parking lot of the Boulevard at Box Hill shopping center, "in utter shock and disbelief," as they tried to process the murders of two of their colleagues, Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler recalled Wednesday afternoon.
"Today the shock may have numbed, but the disbelief remains," Gahler said during a ceremony dedicating a section of Route 924 that runs past the shopping center as "Heroes Highway." The Heroes Highway designation is in honor of Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey and Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon, who were shot to death Feb. 10 at the shopping center and a nearby apartment complex.
The sheriff, along with Gov. Larry Hogan and Harford County state Sen. Wayne Norman, paid tribute to the slain deputies under a tent in the shopping center parking lot.
"Everyone's unwillingness to accept the loss has only been eased by our commitment to their remembrance and recognition," Gahler said.
Gathered under the tent were members of the Dailey and Logsdon families, Sheriff's Office deputies, representatives of the Maryland State Police, the Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments, the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, other local and state elected officials and various community supporters.
The Rev. Paul Cole, a retired sergeant with the Sheriff's Office, gave the opening prayer "in memory of two heroes and two patriots."
"May we never forget the [sacrifice] of life for the protection of our community," Cole said.
The tent was set up a short walk from the Panera Bread restaurant where Senior Deputy Dailey, 52, was shot as he tried to talk with 68-year-old David Evans, who police were told had an outstanding warrant from years earlier.
Evans then walked to the parking lot of the Park View senior apartments and sat in his car. He shot at responding police officers and mortally wounded DFC Logsdon, 43. Evans was killed by return fire from the police. Both deputies were later pronounced dead at area hospitals.
Hogan called the deputies "two Harford County heroes."
"Nearly five months have passed since that tragic day in February, when a senseless act of violence robbed two families of beloved sons, fathers and brothers," Hogan said.
Senior Deputy Dailey spent 30 years with Sheriff's Office. He was also a Marine Corps veteran and an active life member of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company. He is survived by his sons, Bryan and Tyler, and his fiancee, Aimee Grebe.
Deputy First Class Logsdon spent 16 years with the Sheriff's Office. He was an Army veteran and is survived by his wife Jennifer, three children, Darin, Bethany and Megan, and one grandchild.
Gahler thanked the governor for his ongoing support of the Dailey and Logsdon families and the Sheriff's Office.
"Your leadership, coupled with your compassion, has been seen and felt," Gahler told Hogan.
Hogan said he hopes the memories of Senior Deputy Dailey and DFC Logsdon are marked not just by "the last call they answered but by a lifetime's worth of service to their community, to their state and their nation."
"They're heroes because of the incredible lives that they lived," Hogan said.
A replica of the two brown signs posted on Route 924 between the intersection with Singer Road and the Route 24 interchange was unveiled during the ceremony, and smaller replica signs with each deputy's name and badge number were available for their relatives.
Officials also dedicated a flagpole and a blue spruce tree installed in the shopping center roundabout in honor of the deputies, along with a number of smaller plantings donated by local businesses and community groups. The space was donated by the property owner and master developer, Ward Properties, the sheriff said.
Both houses of the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation this spring for the Heroes Highway designation. Hogan signed the House and Senate bills May 19.
The State Highway Administration, which maintains Route 924, oversaw the fabrication and installation of the signs.
Norman, who represents northern Harford County and western Cecil County, first suggested dedicating or renaming Route 924 in honor of the slain deputies.
He drafted the Senate version of the Heroes Highway legislation, and Del. Teresa Reilly, who represents northern Harford, put forth the House version. Both bills garnered unanimous support in their respective houses.
Norman noted Senior Deputy Dailey, DFC Logsdon and their fellow officers ran toward danger while all others were running away.