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Community pours out support for fallen Harford sheriff's deputies

The makeshift memorial outside the Abingdon Panera Bread restaurant where people left flowers and notes of condolences to pay respect to the two Harford County Sheriff deputies killed Wednesday.
The makeshift memorial outside the Abingdon Panera Bread restaurant where people left flowers and notes of condolences to pay respect to the two Harford County Sheriff deputies killed Wednesday. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Angela Budreski stared at the makeshift memorial at the Harford County Sheriff's Office's Southern Precinct in Edgewood on Thursday, where more than three dozen flower bouquets placed by people on top of the patrol car throughout the morning filled up the windshield and spilled over onto the rear-view mirror, door handles and siren lights on top.

One day earlier, Budreski was working in Panera Bread when the first of two sheriff's deputies —who were killed that day in a confrontation with a man —was shot dead.

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On Thursday afternoon she was at the precinct with her mother, Maryann Sebeck, because she wanted to pay her respects to the officers, she said.

Budreski said Thursday she couldn't talk about what happened at work that day because the incident is under investigation, but she could talk about how it made her feel.

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"It's just kind of shocking," she said. "It just was a slow day" at the restaurant.

Deputy Patrick Dailey, 52, and Deputy Mark Logsdon, 43, were killed during confrontations with David Brian Evans, 68, in the Boulevard at Box Hill Shopping Center. Police said Deputy Dailey had gone to the Panera Bread restaurant in response to a complaint about Evans, who pulled out a gun and shot him in the head. Deputy Logsdon was among several deputies who pursued a fleeing Evans and died in an exchange of gunfire. Evans, 68, was also killed in the exchange.

Sebeck, who drives her daughter to work everyday, just as she did Wednesday, has lived in Harford County for 22 years, she said, and it has always been a pretty quiet county.

"We're a close-knit family and the Harford County sheriff's deputies mean a lot to us, and I'm paying my respects," she said.

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Budreski couldn't remember similar incidents happening in the past.

"My heart goes out to the family," she said.

The deputies were identified earlier Thursday during an emotional news conference at the Southern Precinct conducted by Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, who declared, "These men are heroes."

Harford County government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said the county has received numerous offers of support from other county executives and Gov. Larry Hogan.

"We're all wearing blue and black ribbons just to honor these fallen heroes," she said.

Several agencies and others are mounting support for the deputies families.

According to the National Police Wives Association donations to help the families of the officers can be made through the Harford County Deputy Sheriff's Union page at www.hcdsu.org/benevolent-fund. The union also has a Go Fund Me page set up at www.gofundme.com/hcdsubenevolent.

There are also pages for the individual deputies, www.gofundme.com/rtbbkpkk and www.gofundme.com/c3cbd6d8.

The Harford County Department of Emergency Services is planning open a hotline Friday for people who want to help the fallen deputies, Cristie Kahler, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office, said.

The hotline will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with information on funeral services and where people can make donations to the families or the Sheriff's Office.

Officials react

Harford County Council President Richard Slutzky said Thursday he was sad, like everyone else in Harford County.

"I was really overwhelmed in my own emotions," Slutzky said.

A former coach and teacher, he said when he first heard the news of the shooting he was worried it could have been a former student. When it wasn't, he said he was "grateful it doesn't strike deeper."

"Every life is precious. To someone who hasn't held this position, they don't know the commitment every day this is something that they do and they do it willingly," Slutzky said.

His thoughts are with the families of the fallen deputies.

"As a former Marine, I think of the families of the fallen officers, who put themselves out there every day," he said.

"I felt stunned. Here we are facing something here in Harford County, with our quality of life, we are kind of insulated from," he said. "It makes you appreciate it."

Slutzky was at the council chambers Thursday morning and the deputies who provide their security there were back at work, "ready to protect us," he said.

"I say to them 'You guys put on a uniform every day to protect the citizens of this county this office. I have nothing but respect for what you do,'" he said.

Councilman Jim McMahan, a former law enforcement officer whose father was chief of the Bel Air Police Department for 26 years, said: "You never lose perspective that at one time in your life you were a law enforcement officer and carried that responsibility."

Nine months ago, McMahan was asked by Gahler to address a group of deputies being promoted to supervisor.

This is what he told them: "You are now supervisors. Never let a day go by that you don't thank your personnel for what they do, because tomorrow may be too late."

Taps played

Just after noon, Steve Bailey, who has lived in the community about 20 years as well, pulled out a trumpet and played taps in front of the Southern Precinct memorial, the best way he knew how to express how he feels.

"I've never heard of this ever happening before," he said.

Charleen Ritter and Tonia Taylor embraced Thursday afternoon in front of the memorial while tears streamed down their faces.

Neither woman knew the other.

"It just happened," Taylor said. "You just have the same feeling. No matter where you're from or who it is, we're all feeling the same thing."

Taylor, from Baltimore, whose fiancee is a Baltimore City Police detective, called Wednesday's fatal shooting of the two deputies "a horrible tragedy," one that hit home for her and other law enforcement families.

"It could be any one of them," she said.

Ritter stood in front of the memorial, saying a prayer for the deputies.

"I was praying for their souls and their families," Ritter said through tears. "My heart is broken over the tragic loss of those heroes."

The memorial continued to grow Thursday afternoon as people learned the slain deputies' names for the first time.

Todd Marino and his 4-year-old daughter, Lily, from Forest Hill, were posting a letter to the officers on the car.

"I made it with my daddy," Lily said, "for the police."

Todd Marino's brother, Kirk Marino, is a K-9 officer in Delaware, so "whenever something like this happens, it just hits home," he said.

Michelle Binder, of Abingdon, came to the memorial when she realized she knew Deputy Dailey.

Her kids knew Deputy Dailey's and they would all come for haircuts into the salon where she worked, she said. She would also see them in local stores in Joppatowne and at sporting events.

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"Joppatowne is a tiny community," she said.

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Bringing flowers to the memorial, she said. "is the only way I know to [give my respects] right now," she said. "You don't think it's going to happen here, especially when it's personal, it touches home."

Charlotte Britt, of Baltimore County stood sentinel near the hood of the car, with an American flag hung over her shoulder.

"We lost two more good people, law enforcement officers," she said. "The killings, they have to stop. We have to come together."

It was 27 degrees outside then — she had been out for a little more than an hour, she said. How much longer would she stand?

"Until I can't hold the flag anymore," she said.

Outside Panera

About four miles away, at the Panera Bread where the shooting started, another memorial has been growing since Wednesday night.

Kurt Nagel, a former Baltimore City officer who lived down the street from Deputy Logsdon in Fallston, placed a bouquet of flowers there around 2 p.m. Thursday. He said he was headed to the memorial at the Southern Precinct next.

Nagel described Logsdon as a friendly and approachable. The two stopped to talk in the past when Nagel saw him out patrolling trails in the area.

"He was a really good neighbor. He always helped out. His next-door neighbor was actually a family friend who has some health issues. He was always over there helping. (The neighbor) would fall down, his wife couldn't pick him up, so they would call him and he'd come over and help him. He was always very helpful through the neighborhood."

Abingdon resident Shari Sprague also stopped by, pausing by the bouquets.

"We just came out to pay our respects. We appreciate and admire our law enforcement officers," she said. "To have lost their lives over something like this is just a tragedy. It's not something you think would happen here."

"It's not a typical thing for Abingdon. We don't have this level of crime and violence here. I knew something was happening because I saw the ambulance and the police cars right behind my house," she said. "We see the police, we know the police… Just to walk up to somebody at Panera and risk your life, you wouldn't think of that. It's just such a shame."

In the pile of offerings, one teddy bear was wrapped in plastic with a note.

"Jesus, we ask you to wrap your everlasting, loving arms around the family and friends. Provide them with much needed comfort and love."

Reporter Erika Butler contributed to this report.

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