Intruder Shot by Off-Duty St. Louis County Officer After Online Argument About Black Lives Matter, Family Says
Denise Hollinshed and Ashley Jost, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 2016
A former Affton High School football standout forced his way into a South County home and was shot and killed by an off-duty officer inside after a Facebook dispute over Black Lives Matter apparently boiled over late Saturday afternoon.
That’s what can be pieced together from the accounts of police and an uncle of Tyler Gebhard, who said the young man had been struggling with mental health issues.
“He walked over there and into a gunfight,” Gebhard’s uncle, Patrick 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.”
Authorities said Gebhard, 20, and the officer were acquainted, and Gebhard made Facebook threats to the officer’s family and “uninvolved members of the community” in advance of the Saturday encounter with the unidentified officer.
Gebhard threw a 50-pound concrete planter through the window and entered the Lakeshire residence as the officer’s wife, mother-in-law and two young children struggled to escape through a bedroom window, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said. The off-duty officer shot and killed Gebhard.
But Gebhard waged a long battle with bi-polar disorder, according to his uncle.
“He was like a normal 20-year-old, (the family) had to stay on him to take his medication,” said Brogan, also of Waterloo.
Brogan said Gebhard and the police officer he befriended at a local church had clashed recently on Facebook over his nephew’s support of Black Lives Matter.
Gebhard, who was biracial, supported the cause but was not an active participant in the protest movement, the uncle said.
His Facebook page contains numerous posts about police shootings of black men and the deaths of five officers in Dallas at the hands of a gunman targeting white officers. Some devolve into heated arguments and warnings of a “race war.” Some posts are conciliatory, calling for black and white people to come together. One shows an image of a candle burning for the fallen Dallas officers.