Intruder shot by off-duty St. Louis
County officer after online argument
about Black Lives Matter, family says
By Denise Hollinshed and Ashley Jost St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A 50-pound concrete planter sits on the floor inside of an off-duty St. Louis County police officer's home after an intruder threw it through a window on Saturday, July 9, 2016. The officer fatally shot the intruder, who he knew. Photo released by St. Louis County Police.
UPDATED 12:15 p.m. with details about former Affton High School football standout Tyler Gebhard.
LAKESHIRE • An off-duty St. Louis County police officer shot and killed a man who tried to enter his home in Lakeshire in South County on Saturday afternoon, according to police.
Police Sunday morning identified the intruder as Tyler Gebhard, 20, of the 7900 block of Navajoe Street in the Affton area.
An uncle, Patrick Brogan, 57, of Waterloo, said Gebhard became acquainted with the county police officer through a church connection.
Brogan said his nephew, a former Affton High School football standout, suffered from bi-polar disorder.
According to Brogan, the officer and Gebhard had been arguing on Facebook about Black Lives Matter. Gebhard, who was biracial, empathized with the group's objectives but did not actively participate in protests, Brogan said.
Family members told Brogan the disagreement between the two men culminated with Gebhard traveling from Affton to Lakeshire late Saturday afternoon.
"He walked over there and into a gunfight," Brogan said, drawing on accounts offered by friends of his nephew. "When he got there he was met with a gun and the guy killed him."
Brogan said Gebhard periodically stopped taking medication.
"He was like a normal 20-year-old, (the family) had to stay on him to take his medication," Brogan said.
The uncle said the disorder worsened during Gebhard's first year at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau.
"He had a lot of mental problems the last few months," Brogan said of the 2014 Affton High graduate. "A lot of difficulties in life."
Gebhard had football profiles on several prep sites.
Several members of Gebhard's extended family are in law enforcement, Brogan said.
Nikki Toal, a family friend who also resides in Waterloo, described Gebhard as a "wonderful kid."
"He was a sweetheart," Toal told a reporter outside the family's Affton home. "The nicest person you could ever meet."
The 2015 Southeast Missouri State spring football roster lists Gebhard as a 6 foot, 1-inch, 220-pound fullback.
The Affton School District website notes that Gebhard was a 2014 recipient of the Howard Foundation of St. Louis Scholarship, awarded by the United Negro College Fund.
Brogan called his nephew "a hard-hitting kid at football." Gebhard, he added, also excelled at golf.
The officer was placed on administrative leave pending investigation of the incident. Belmar on Saturday offered a timeline of what occurred after Gebhard arrived in Lakeshire:
The officer, the chief said, was at home about 5:50 p.m. with his wife, mother-in-law, a toddler and an infant child when a man later identified as Gebhard started ringing the doorbell.
When the wife answered the door with the infant, she immediately recognized Gebhard. She shut the door and went to a back bedroom with other family members.
Belmar said that before the officer could get to the front door, Gebhard went to the rear of the house, where he threw a 50- pound concrete planter through a window to enter the home.
Members of the family in the bedroom said they heard the officer tell the intruder to “get down, get down, get down,” and then heard several shots fired, Belmar said.
As the shots were being fired, members of the family were trying to escape from a bedroom window.
Gebhard was shot twice in the chest. He was taken to St. Anthony’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. “I don’t think the officer had a choice — I honestly don’t,” Belmar said. He called it “a very difficult position to be in.”
Belmar wasn’t sure whether the gun was the officer’s department-issued firearm or his personal weapon. Brogan said the events of Saturday afternoon left two families devastated.
"We are sick for both families because it was senseless," Brogan said. "It was a senseless death."