APG staff sergeant killed by Harford Sheriff's deputies after armed standoff in Bel Air

Police warn people to stay away from Althea Court off South Tollgate Road near the Festival at Bel Air

Harford County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed a 36-year-old staff sergeant from Aberdeen Proving Ground, who said he wanted to "go out in a gunfight," after a 2 1/2-hour standoff in Bel Air that began late Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff's office said.

The man was identified Thursday as Travis Boyd Bradley, believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Sheriff's Office Maj. William Davis said in a press conference early Thursday afternoon.

Bradley was an active-duty staff sergeant assigned to the Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command, a tenant unit on APG, spokesperson Joseph Ferrare confirmed Thursday.

"The loss of any soldier, regardless of the situation, is tragic," said Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, APG senior commander, in a statement. "Right now our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the soldier's family and all those impacted by this event."

The incident, which began at 3:30 p.m., made for a chaotic scene on Althea Court, off Tollgate Road near the Festival at Bel Air shopping center, as the small cul-de-sac of town houses was flooded with tactical units and residents reported being unable to exit or enter their homes until about 9 p.m.

Three deputies fired 20 rounds at Bradley after "all indications were that he was ready for a fight and he told us he was going to shoot it out with us," Davis said. The deputies have been placed on administrative leave.

Three guns, including an assault rifle, were later found in the house, Davis said.

"He was not armed when he was shot, but we did believe, based on some of his statements, that he had some explosives in the house," as well as on his person, Davis said.

Bradley's girlfriend, who Davis said was not in the house, originally told police at about 3:30 p.m. that Bradley "was possibly armed with a handgun" and was suffering from PTSD, Davis said Thursday.

He was also reported to be intoxicated, Cristie Kahler, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said Thursday.

After spending about 30 minutes trying to reach the man by "personal contact and phone," he came out on the home's back deck and fired two rounds from an assault rifle, sending deputies scattering for cover, according to Davis and an earlier press release.

The man retreated back into the home, and no one was injured.

After the gunfire, deputies set up a perimeter and "moved to safeguard" area residents, with the Special Response Team of the Special Operations Division taking over command of the incident, according to a press release sent late Wednesday.

The team tried to negotiate with Bradley, together with the Crisis Negotiation Team, "to bring the incident to a peaceful end," according to the release.

"This is a townhouse community. We are trying to make sure everyone in the community is safe," Davis said, explaining the man also indicated to police "he planned to shoot it out with the officers outside the house."

At about 6:30 p.m, Bradley "came out of the house and presented himself in a threatening manner, gave indication he was armed," Davis said.

Fearing for their safety and that of the surrounding community, deputies shot and mortally wounded him, according to the release. No deputies or other residents were injured.

An initial investigation turned up several firearms, which were seized from the house by investigators and forensic service detectives from the Criminal Investigations Division, according to the release.

The weapons in the house gave "the indication that he was ready for us to make an assault," Davis said, as a rifle was propped against a front window and another firearm at a dresser.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal also thoroughly searched the house to ensure no incendiary or explosive devices were in the area.

Davis said the Sheriff's Office had continually tried to offer Bradley help.

"We were trying to let him know we were there to help him," he said, but Bradley was indicating "he was going to go out in a gunfight."

"It is certainly a difficult situation because everyone understands the pressures of PTSD and we are trying to be sensitive to that as well," Davis said.

Aberdeen Proving Ground declined to release further information on Bradley's military background Thursday, citing the ongoing investigation, Ferrare said.

'You just can't fix things like that'

Nicole Heider says Bradley, her sister's ex-husband, was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground a year ago.

Bradley was stationed at Fort Benning in western Georgia and was told his position there would be permanent, Heider said.

The move to Harford County was troublesome for Bradley, who left a toddler with his ex-wife and a young child from a prior marriage.

"He FaceTimed with his kids every day," said Heider, who lives in Ohio with her husband and children, but still carries a Southern accent from growing up in Alabama. Heider said her sister and Bradley's second child still live in Alabama.

Heider said Bradley suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving overseas.

"He had been deemed no deployable because of his PTSD," she said. "He had been in programs before."

She said he struggled with alcohol and the death of a close friend while on duty in Iraq.

"He had been doing really good for a while," she said. "My sister and him are divorced now because he had so many problems. At the time he couldn't stop drinking. He got sober and clean; met a girl [in Maryland.]"

But the anniversary of the death of his close friend was problematic every year.

"His Facebook posts have changed since then. That was a big key factor," Heider said of Bradley's stress.

The anniversary of his friend's death was this week, Heider said.

"You just can't fix things like that," Heider said. "I just feel like our government has abandoned so many of their veterans. I think this is a result of that. Of course, I don't know what happened there."

Heider said Bradley was on the phone with his ex-wife when the shooting took place.

"She was telling him please don't do this. And he was telling her he just wanted to die," Heider said. "He was going on about his friend. And he just said he wanted to die."

The Baltimore Sun's Sean Welsh contributed to this article.

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