Maryland Troopers Update Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting

Maryland State Police are continuing an investigation into a shooting that fatally wounded a Cecil County man and injured a sheriff’s deputy from the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office yesterday afternoon in North East.

The deceased is identified as Jonathan Balchunas, 24, of North East, Md. He was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency medical service personnel from the Cecil County Fire Department. He was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore where the results of an autopsy will provide more information about the origin of the fatal shot.

The trooper who fired his agency issued firearm has been placed on administrative leave which is procedure. The other trooper on the scene has been placed on administrative duty. The Maryland State Police Internal Affairs Division is conducting an administrative investigation. This is also procedure.

The sheriff’s deputy who was struck by gunfire during the incident was treated for his injuries at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware last night. The Cecil County Sheriff’s Office reports today that their deputy was released overnight.

According to the preliminary investigation, at 3:40 p.m. yesterday, a 9-1-1 call was received by the Cecil County Emergency Operations Center and directed to the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office. The caller, later identified as the father of the deceased, called to report a man with a gun in an apartment in the 100 block of Chesapeake Ridge Lane in North East, Maryland.

Two troopers assigned to the North East Barracks were scanning the radio and responded to the disturbance to assist the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office. 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”.

At that point, the two troopers and sheriff’s deputy entered the apartment through an unlocked front door. They were immediately fired upon by the suspect.

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.

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.

Members of the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and Criminal Enforcement Division investigators responded to the scene to investigate. Their investigation included an interview with the father who was involved in the altercation with the suspect.

The father told police he and his 24-year-old son had been arguing most of the day and had argued again prior to him calling 9-1-1. He also told police he watched his son load a 9mm firearm, according to police. His son then reportedly placed the barrel of the gun to his father’s head, telling him that “If the cops come, he is going to kill them too”.

The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit is conducting a criminal investigation. This is procedure in all trooper-involved shootings, police said. Maryland State Police crime scene technicians responded to process the scene. A loaded firearm was found next to the deceased along with multiple other firearms in the apartment.