The man who killed two Maryland sheriff’s deputies in a shootout last month had been stalking his estranged family on the Internet and set up a fake social media account to monitor them, the county sheriff said Tuesday.
David Brian Evans, who fatally shot two deputies at a Panera Bread restaurant in Abingdon on Feb. 10, intended to harm his ex-wife Elizabeth Rupp and her family, who live near the restaurant, Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said Tuesday at a news conference. Evans had shot Rupp with a rifle 20 years earlier, he said.
Gahler said records of Evans’ Internet searches revealed that he had set up a fake Facebook account to stalk the family, and had repeatedly searched for information about them, as well as tips on committing a bank robbery and how one can detect if the police are using GPS to track movements.
Evans, 68, shot Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey in the head after the officer approached him inside the Panera Bread following a concerned phone call to the department from Rupp. Evans then fled the restaurant to a nearby parking lot, where he exchanged fire with responding deputies, killing Senior Deputy Mark Logsdon before receiving fatal gunshot wounds himself.
Deputy Anthony DeMarino fired 16 rounds and Deputy Thomas Wherle fired 17, police have said. Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly said Tuesday that their use of deadly force was justified, and that the tragedy should prompt the reinstatement of the death penalty in Maryland.
Evans was killed in the shootout. Several guns, including the rifle he used to shoot Rupp 20 years ago, were found in his car along with 2,700 rounds of live ammunition, Gahler said.
“We will never know 100 percent for sure, but I fully suspect it was his intention, as it was in 1996 to shoot his ex-wife then, to take some sort of action against her and maybe members of his family,” Gahler said.
The chief said the department is devastated by the loss of the two deputies who died at Evans’ hands.
“This is the darkest day in 244 years in Harford County,” he said. “There’s no 100 percent healing coming.”
Evans and Rupp divorced in 1989. She moved her family to Georgia, and Evans followed, Gahler said. After Rupp remarried and moved back to Maryland in the 1990s, Evans began stalking her, Gahler said, then disappeared. Before Evans resurfaced over the summer, Rupp hadn’t seen the man for 20 years. In fact, she and her family were under the impression he was dead.
At the news conference, Gahler sought to dispel any criticism or speculation that the department hadn’t followed up on the 1996 shooting, or that the deputies weren’t provided enough information about Evans before they were dispatched to the scene. A package of documents released Tuesday included a lengthy report detailing the 1996 investigation. Gahler said police were unable to locate Evans, who was wanted for questioning in 1996, and there was not enough probable cause to issue a warrant for his arrest.
According to 911 calls released Tuesday, Rupp provided a detailed description of him and warned the dispatcher that he’d previously shot her.
“He’s been seen here for two months,” she said, describing him as “very serious and somber looking, sitting all the way in the back of the restaurant.”
“Three months ago he tried to contact my middle son,” she said. “He’s dangerously near to where my son lives with his family.”
However, when asked if he was armed, or if he posed an immediate threat, Rupp said no.
The dispatcher told Dailey, who first responded to the scene, about the previous shooting, and about a warrant for Evans’ arrest from Florida, issued in 2015, for eluding a police officer.
Gahler praised his department’s handling of the tragedy. He said the performance of the dispatcher, and of the deputies who responded to the scene after Dailey was shot, showed “unparalleled restraint.” And then his eyes filled with tears.