David Brian Evans, who murdered two Harford County Sheriff's Office deputies in February before being killed by police, was among the six homeless people remembered during the county's annual Homeless Persons' Memorial Service and Candle Vigil Wednesday in Bel Air, an apparent oversight by the vigil's organizers that has enraged Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler.
Evans' name was among the six read aloud during the brief gathering held in the small park next to the Bel Air Armory. The event is organized to honor people who have died homeless in the county during the previous 12 months and to call attention to the plight of the county's homeless population.
Along with Evans, Aisha Davis, Jason Reed, Catherine Bridges, Edward Goodman and Paul Beers, were included in a program printed for the vigil.
"I am greatly disappointed that such an egregious error could have been allowed to go unnoticed," Gahler, who did not attend the vigil, said in a statement Thursday morning. "The individual who took the lives of our deputies is deserving of no honor or recognition of any kind and, sadly, this recognition has reopened the pain of the events of that day for our Sheriff's Office family and I am sure for Pat and Mark's families."
Approximately 20 people, including County Executive Barry Glassman and others representing government and social services agencies, attended the vigil. It appeared no one present made the connection between Evans and the deaths of Senior Deputy Patrick Daily and Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon.
People involved in planning the event confirmed Thursday morning that the deputies' killer Evans was on the memorial list.
County spokeswoman Cindy Mumby said county officials "had no idea" that Evans was among the names read Wednesday.
"Certainly, our hearts go out to the families of the deputies who were the real victims here," she said. "In no way would we be looking to honor this person."
Wednesday's vigil was organized by Health Care for the Homeless and the Harford County Health Department with support from the Harford County government.
The memorial list read is compiled from information provided by the state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as well as from operators of the Welcome One Emergency Shelter in Belcamp, of homeless persons who died in Harford County in 2016, according to William Wiseman, a spokesperson for the health department.
Evans was listed as "David B. Evans" on the program. Bruce Goldfarb, a spokesperson for the medical examiner's office, confirmed it is the same David Evans who killed the deputies.
Harford County government, community organizations gather in downtown Bel Air Wednesday for the county's annual Homeless Persons' Memorial Service and Candle Vigil. (David Anderson, Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Wiseman stressed the vigil "speaks to a much broader issue about homelessness," as well as to public health officials' efforts to "access an otherwise overlooked population to health care and other appropriate resources."
He said officials are not so much "honoring these individuals but rather recognizing the phenomenon of homelessness in Harford County."
"While today is a solemn occasion to remember those who have passed, it is recommended that we also utilize today's event as an opportunity to encourage changes in our community, so that no others should die of homelessness," Kristle Fullerton, a former case manager with Health Care for the Homeless, said during her opening remarks.
Evans, 68, had been living in his car as of Feb. 10, the day he shot Senior Deputy Dailey at a Panera Bread restaurant in Abingdon. He then walked across the street to a senior apartment complex and was sitting in his vehicle when police confronted him. He shot again, fatally wounding Deputy First Class Logsdon. Evans was killed by return fire from two other deputies.
The deaths shocked Harford County, which had not seen a police officer murdered in the line of duty since 1986. The Sheriff's Office, which employed the two deputies, had not had one in its ranks murdered since 1899.
Mourning for the two deputies went on for weeks after their funerals, which were both attended by Gov. Larry Hogan. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised to aid surviving members of the Dailey and Logsdon families. The Maryland General Assembly unanimously enacted legislation to dedicate part of Route 924 near where they died as "Heroes Highway" in their honor.
In its investigation of the deputies' deaths, the Sheriff's Office concluded there was a likelihood Evans was in Abingdon in February because he planned to harm estranged family members who live in Harford County.
He was suspected of shooting and wounding his former wife in 1996, but disappeared before Harford law enforcement could question him. He remained out of sight for nearly 20 years, and a Pennsylvania judge declared him dead as of 1997.
Harford has been observing National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day since 2007. Vigils are held to coincide with the winter solstice and the longest night of the year.
Susan Moscareillo, executive director of Faith Communities and Civic Agencies, operator of the Welcome One Emergency Shelter in Belcamp, remembered three of the people memorialized Wednesday, as they had stayed at the Welcome One shelter.
Bridges, who had multiple health issues and succumbed to her illnesses in her sleep, Moscareillo said, while Beers and Goodman "lost their battles" with addiction.
Harford County does a point-in-time count each January to record the number of people who are homeless during one night in the county. Workers recorded 189 homeless people, a majority of whom were staying in local shelters, in the 2016, according to the county government.
During the vigil, Len Parrish, the county's director of housing and community development, praised the many faith-based and community groups that have stepped up to provide service to the homeless, such as Harford County Hope for the Homeless Alliance's "rotating shelter" program for this winter.
Since last December, he said, the county has established "one central access point" to find services for people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.
"Sometimes all it takes is a specific intervention, a rent or utility payment, to help folks through an emergency," he added.
The central access point is also used for data collection through coordinated screenings, which gives a clearer picture of the local homeless population, Parrish said, including families who are often "couch surfing to stay off the streets" and suffer from turmoil in their personal relationships and who lack of affordable housing and well-paying jobs.
Homeless individuals have been found living on the streets, in tents or cars, he said.