EDGEWOOD, Md. » Before he fired a shot at a sheriff’s deputy, sending bystanders fleeing from a suburban sandwich shop, a drifter had a history of harming, stalking and scaring those closest to him, according to the man’s estranged son.
David Brian Evans, 68, shot one Harford County sheriff’s deputy in the head Wednesday after the officer approached him inside a Panera Bread in Abingdon following a concerned phone call to the department from his ex-wife. Evans then fled the restaurant to a nearby parking lot, where he exchanged fire with responding deputies, killing another before receiving fatal gunshot wounds himself.
One of Evans’ sons, Jeremie, said family members had recently seen his father, who had disappeared to Florida for several years, and reported that they were afraid he’d come back to Maryland to harm them.
Sheriff Jeremy Gahler identified the slain officers Thursday as Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey, a 30-year veteran of the department who served in the Marines and as a volunteer firefighter, and Senior Deputy Mark Logsdon, a 16-year department veteran who had served in the Army. Both were fathers.
Dailey responded to a call at the crowded restaurant about 20 miles northeast of Baltimore and encountered Evans, who shot him within seconds and without warning, the sheriff said. A short time later, Evans engaged in a shootout with deputies and killed Logsdon.
“To the people who wear this uniform, there are no words,” the sheriff said at a news conference. “These men are heroes. I don’t know what else to say. They served this county, they served this country, faithfully and honorably, and lost their lives doing what they love to do.”
When Dailey arrived, he tried to engage with Evans, who was seated alone and had two outstanding warrants for his arrest. Evans immediately took out a gun, shot Dailey in the head and fled out the restaurant’s back door.
“Pat Dailey never even unholstered his gun,” Gahler said. “He never had the chance.”
More deputies responded immediately, chasing Evans to his car and exchanging gunfire. Logsdon was one of the first to provide backup.
Evans was known to employees at the restaurant, Gahler said, and had warrants for his arrest in Orange County, Florida, and another from Harford County stemming from unpaid attorney’s fees.
But it was the man’s ex-wife, Elizabeth Rupp, who tipped off the authorities more than a month ago that he was back in town after moving to Florida, one of Evans’ sons said Thursday.
“It was one of the many times my mom or my brother saw our estranged father at that Panera Bread,” Jeremie Evans said, adding that his mother called him right after spotting Evans for the last time, and he told her to “drive straight to Main Street,” where the sheriff’s office is headquartered, “and tell them he’s in the Panera Bread and has at least one outstanding warrant.”
Evans said members of his family, including Rupp, had thought they’d seen the man at the Panera Bread several times since mid-January, and his brother spoke to him a few weeks ago.
“My brother confronted him and said, ‘Are you David? Are you my dad?’” Evans said, adding that the man looked awful, and had declined significantly since the family last saw him. “He said, ‘Are you going to follow me? Don’t follow me.’”
Evans described his father as abusive and having violent tendencies.
“My dad was getting very, very violent,” before his parents’ divorce, Evans said. “He was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He had moments where he knew he was getting worse; he’d just medicate with alcohol.”
The family had called the sheriff’s office four or five times to report his presence in the area, Evans said, because it felt all too familiar: Rupp and Evans split up in 1988 while the family was living in Georgia, the younger Evans said. Rupp moved her children to Maryland “to get away from him,” Jeremie Evans said. But in 1990, the man, too, moved to Maryland and began stalking the family. He disappeared in 1993, two years after Rupp remarried, Jeremie Evans said, but showed up again in 1998, when the family believes he shot Rupp outside of her Bel Air home in the early hours of New Year’s Eve Day.
“She was going to work. The sun wasn’t even up yet,” Evans said. “When she leaned over to open the car door, this searing pain hit her in the neck.”
“He had been driving by a lot; we knew it was him,” Evans said. “Then all of a sudden, my mom gets shot with a .22 caliber rifle, which was a Christmas present he’d given me two years earlier and kept it in his trunk.”
Evans said the family reported the shooting to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, but no charges were filed. Rupp told The Washington Post that she couldn’t see who the shooter was.
This winter, each time members of the family called the department, Evans said, they were routed to different divisions. He said he was concerned that that the deputies came to the Panera Bread on Wednesday weren’t adequately warned.
“They definitely did not know what was about to happen to them,” Evans said. “To me, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that a man with a loaded semi-automatic handgun sitting in a Panera Bread, where he’s seen my mother a few weeks earlier, and he’s sitting in there day after day after day, has a plan.”
Gahler said the deputy’s response when he arrived at Panera was appropriate given the information he had at the time.
“We believe the deputy knew there was a warrant for the subject that was in there. The subject frequented the establishment every day,” he said, “but what the details and the background of the suspect were, that was probably not known to the deputy.”
Gahlor added that had the deputy, or anyone in the sheriff’s office, known more about Evans “there would have been a more tactical response. But this is the type of response that’s just 100 percent normal in law enforcement around the country, every single day,” he said. “Actions are faster than reactions. If someone wants to do something and is equipped to do so, as in Deputy Dailey’s case, there was nothing he could have done to prevent that.”
Evans’ brush with police in Maitland, Florida, was in April. Maitland Deputy Chief Bill McEachnie said an officer saw what appeared to be a suspicious car.
“There were clothes in the back seat. It was cluttered,” McEachnie said Thursday. “It looked like a person was living out of the car.”
Evans appeared nervous but gave the officer his name, a police report said. While the officer radioed Evans’ name and vehicle tag number to a dispatcher, Evans pulled out of a parking lot with his lights off. The officer pursued him, and Evans at one point made a U-turn and started driving in the wrong direction on the road. The officer stopped pursuing Evans when he left Maitland’s city limits, in accordance with police policy, McEachnie said.
It turned out the vehicle was stolen. The officer filed a request for a warrant on charges of fleeing and eluding officers, reckless driving and resisting an officer without violence. The charge that was ultimately filed was for reckless driving, according to court records.
Gahler said the gun Evans bought the gun he used Wednesday legally from an arms dealer in Pennsylvania in 1993 but that it had since gone out of business.
“Many aspects of whether he should have been in possession are still under investigation,” he said.
Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.