Additional details emerged Monday surrounding the death of a Bel Air man who allegedly engaged in a brief rampage through several Rock Spring businesses Saturday night before being shot by a Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputy.
But key information, including the deputy’s identity and what he saw that night, have not been made public pending an interview of the deputy by Sheriff’s Office investigators, according to agency spokesman Edward Hopkins.
Seth Jacob Beckman, 19, of Bel Air died early Sunday morning at the University of Maryland R Cowley Adams Shock Trauma Center. According to police, Beckman was reported “tearing up” the 7-11 convenience store on Bynum Road, and had previously caused disturbances at other area businesses. At the 7-11, Hopkins said Beckman punched an acquaintance who had arrived at the scene. That individual left the scene shortly after the assault and was not injured; Sheriff’s Office investigators later identified and interviewed the person.
Deputies responding to the scene were advised that Beckman had moved to the nearby BP gas station on Rock Spring Road, damaging that store, and a subsequent 911 call reported that he had broken into Sharon’s Shaved Ice Snowball Stand across the parking lot. The first deputy on scene reported his arrival at 10:43 p.m., and according to police, ordered Beckman to exit the snowball stand.
“It appears that when he ordered him out of the snowball stand, [Beckman] charged the deputy,” Hopkins said. “Our belief is that when he exited the building, he immediately engaged the officer.”
The deputy fired at the suspect several times at 10:44 p.m. according to police, less than 60 seconds after arriving on scene. Hopkins declined to specify how many times Beckman was hit, but said he continued to struggle and “resist” as other deputies and officers from the Bel Air Police Department arrived on scene and attempted to treat his wounds. A short time later, paramedics arrived and transported him by Maryland State Police Medivac to Shock Trauma, where he died. Beckman’s body was later transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, where an autopsy and toxicology tests will be conducted.
As of midday Monday, the deputy had not been interviewed by Sheriff’s Office detectives, who Hopkins said will handle the investigation. The deputy’s identity will be released only after that interview takes place, to avoid tainting his statement, Hopkins said. An internal affairs interview and other proceedings will take place separate from that interview, he added.
The deputy was identified in a Sheriff’s Office release as a member with two years of service assigned to the Northern Precinct. Hopkins said the 43-year-old deputy was hired in 2011 and first worked at the Harford County Detention Center before becoming a patrol officer. He declined to specify how long the deputy had worked as a patrol officer to avoid identifying him.
Police have not said whether Beckman was armed with a weapon at the time of the shooting. In some instances, police protocol allows officers to consider a suspect a threat if they make an aggressive move toward an officer within approximately 20 feet.
As part of their training, Hopkins said deputies are taught to consider their immediate surroundings before firing their weapon; the snowball stand and BP station stand at a busy intersection with regular traffic. However, once they decide to shoot, Hopkins said officers are, “not trained to shoot to wound. They’re trained to shoot to stop the threat.”
Hopkins said the deputy was shaken by the incident.
“Like any police officer, when you take a life, he’s very upset,” Hopkins said. “You have to process that, think back, ‘could I have done something differently?’”