'If The Cops Come, He Is Going To Kill Them' Father-Son Argument Leaves Deputy Injured, Son Dead In Cecil County
NORTHEAST, Md. (WJZ) -- An autopsy will help determine whether a Maryland State Trooper fired the bullet that killed 24-year-old Jonathan Balchunas at his apartment in Cecil County Sunday.
Balchunas' body is now at the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore.
Police said the incident began when Balchunas' father called 911 just after 3:30 in the afternoon and said the two had been arguing most of the day and his son was armed.
"He told police he watched his son load a 9mm firearm. His son then reportedly placed the barrel of the gun to his father's head, telling him, 'If the cops come, he is going to kill them too,'" said Col. Jerry Jones, the superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
Two state troopers and a Cecil County sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene.
"Upon arrival, the two troopers along with the sheriff's deputy approached the front door to the residence where they could hear arguing. During the argument, they heard someone say, 'He has a gun,'" Col. Jones said.
Police said they went inside the apartment through the unlocked front door when Balchunas opened fire on them.
"In fear for his life and for the lives of the other police officers, one of the troopers returned fire as the officers retreated to the landing outside of the apartment to take cover. Once they retreated, it was discovered the sheriff's deputy had been shot," Col. Jones said.
"After the gunfire ceased, members of the Cecil County Special Response Team responded and cleared the residence. They located the suspect deceased in the kitchen with a 9mm firearm in close proximity with the red dot laser of the suspect's firearm aimed at the front door."
Balchunas was pronounced dead at the scene. Cecil County Senior Deputy Shumaker, a six-year veteran of the department, was rushed to Christiana Hospital in Delaware.
"Fortunately for us, he was treated and released last night. He was treated for a gunshot wound to the left arm," Sheriff Scott Adams said.
Tom Sapanaro lives in the next building and said he got an email from the Chesapeake Ridge apartment complex saying there was a police presence, warning people to stay inside. "Police had the complex blocked off, and that's when another neighbor said there was a shootout," Saparano told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. "It was concerning."
One of Balchunas' family members declined to comment. Many in the community were stunned that this would happen.
A family acquaintance told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren she saw Balchunas' father about five hours after the shootout. "He said, 'I can't talk. My son was just shot and killed.' I gave him a hug and told him I was very sorry. He's a very nice man and I thought they had a very good relationship."
The son's boss shared a picture and said he was "very respectful" at work.
Police said they found a loaded 9mm firearm near the victim "with the red dot laser of the suspect's firearm aimed at the front door." State police said there were "multiple" other guns in the apartment.
"It's surprising. That's probably the second time I've ever seen police in the area. It's always been a nice, quiet place to live," neighbor Sapranao said.
The trooper who fired his service weapon is on routine administrative leave. The other responding trooper is on administrative duties.
Maryland State Police are investigating, and that investigation will be turned over to the Cecil County State's Attorney, who responded to the scene yesterday.
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