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Changed forever: The Aegis Story of the Year for 2016

Feb. 10, 2016 is the date Harford County living changed forever.

At about 11:45 a.m., Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey, a 30-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office assigned to the court services division, walked into Panera Bread in Abingdon in response to a call for a suspicious person. He was fatally shot where he sat as he tried to talk to the man.

The killer, later identified as 68-year-old David Brian Evans, a homeless man with Harford County connections and a troubled past, walked out of the Panera Bread toward his car he had left in a parking lot that was down a short embankment about a block away.

Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon, a 16-year veteran assigned to the community services division, was among the first officers on the scene after Senior Deputy Dailey was shot. He went off in the direction Evans had gone.

Minutes later, DFC Logsdon was shot to death by Evans, who was hiding in his car.

Other deputies were arriving and they shot and killed Evans before he could get out of his car.

The murders of Senior Deputy Dailey and DFC Logsdon touched off an outpouring of grief and support nearly as unimaginable as the killings of the two officers.

That was the story of 2016, or any other year in the modern history of Harford County. While others have died doing their jobs, only three other law enforcement officers of any agency had been murdered in the line of duty since the county's founding in 1773 – in 1899, 1920 and 1986.

Senior Deputy Dailey and DFC Logsdon left behind loved ones who included one's wife, the other's partner, children, parents and what Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler said were "absolutely" devastated colleagues.

The killings left behind an equally devastated Harford County, where many residents are either related to or know someone who is a police officer, and where support for law enforcement is strong.

Gahler became choked up in February as he talked about the Sheriff's Medals of Honor presented to the families of both deputies killed in the line of duty just a week earlier.

"Both of our deputies gave their life in the line of duty and for that we have awarded two medals of honor...I pray I never award another one," Gahler said at the time.

The sheriff said the medal is "the highest recognition that we can possibly hand out for service."

"The Medal of Honor may be awarded to nominees who intelligently perform an act of extraordinary heroism where an imminent threat to the life of the nominee exists," a statement from the Sheriff's Office said.

"It's just a small token of appreciation on behalf of a thankful Sheriff's Office, a thankful sheriff and a thankful community," Gahler said.

Gov. Larry Hogan attended the funerals of both deputies and called them heroes.

"By the show of solidarity we see here today, they are proud members of the thin blue line," Hogan said during Senior Deputy Dailey's funeral at the Mountain Christian Church New Life Center in Joppa. "They bring honor to their badges every day, who come together to lay their colleague to rest."

"We show an eternal gratitude of a state that will forever be in his debt," the governor said.

Hogan expressed similar sentiments a few days later as he addressed those who filled to overflowing the APG Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College for DFC Logsdon's funeral.

The governor's support continued in the months after the murders as he stood behind state legislation that named a portion of the road in front of the shopping area where the deputies were killed "Heroes Highway."

He also supported legislation that made Senior Deputy Dailey's two sons eligible to collect additional benefits; he was the sole provider for his sons, one of whom was in high school and the other was in college.

The bill increased the maximum age that children of law enforcement officers are eligible to receive death benefits. The law allows any surviving child to collect benefits until the age of 26. The prior law only gave support until the age of 18. House Bill 1581 was known as the Harford County Deputy Sheriffs Dailey and Logsdon Benefits Memorial Act, which passed both the House and Senate by unanimous votes.

Tributes to the deputies came in many forms. Support came in waves.

A makeshift memorial was set up in the parking lot of the Harford County Sheriff's Office's Southern Precinct in Edgewood.

A department SUV draped in black was covered with bouquets of flowers. Residents came day and night in the days that followed the shootings to pay their respects to the fallen officers and their families at their viewings and funerals the week of Feb. 15.

A new Maryland State Police bloodhound was named for Senior Deputy Dailey. Trooper Richard Kelly, "Dailey's" handler, said that when he was assigned his new partner, he reached out to the Dailey family and asked for their permission to name the dog after their fallen hero.

In August, the Joppa-Magnolia fire station off Old Mountain Road erected a sign at the entrance to the station with the drive's new name "Dailey Drive" to honor Senior Deputy Dailey, who was a Joppa resident and a long-time member of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company.

Money started pouring in to the Sheriff Office's Benevolent Fund in memory of the officers and businesses throughout the county offered promotions tied to fundraising for the slain officers.

As March arrived, more than $350,000 had been contributed for the families of the deputies. Donations kept coming and more fundraisers were planned.

"The community has really conveyed a deep love and support for the family, and they have felt that and are just overwhelmed and just eager to express that appreciation," Ben Cachiaras, senior pastor of Mountain Christian Church, said. Two days of visitation for DFC Logsdon were held at Mountain Christian.

As for the killer, members of his estranged family had been alarmed to see him at the Panera Bread restaurant in Abingdon several times in the month before the shootings. They called police to report that the man they say shot his former wife almost 20 years ago was back in town.

On the morning of Feb. 10, his former wife saw him there again and called police. Senior Deputy Dailey responded.

As details about Evans, 68, who his son says had abused his family, began emerging they showed a troubled man who tried to kill his wife 20 years earlier before disappearing off the grid.

"He had a history of violence, so none of this is shocking to me," Evans' son, Jeremie, said outside of his home in Towson days after the killings.

As for the Sheriff's Office, it hasn't been easy in recent years for the agency to find qualified police officers. Shootings of police officers around the country, including the murders of Senior Deputy Dailey and DFC Logsdon recent years, hasn't made it any easier, though it's unclear what impact the loss of the deputies has had.

The murders had a deep impact on Harford County, which carried on despite the tragedies.

"We are shaken, but we are still steady, like those deputies who will carry on in His footsteps, we are brave and not afraid," Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said.

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