An off-duty police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Lakeshire, Missouri, fatally shot an intruder on Saturday after the two had a heated debate on police brutality on Facebook.
The officer, whose name has not been disclosed, was at home with his family, which included two small children, when Tyler Gebhard rang the doorbell. The cop’s wife answered and recognized Gebhard through a church connection. She refused entry to Gebhard, shut the door and joined the family at a back bedroom.
Before the officer could get to the front door, Gebhard grabbed a heavy planter and hurled it through the house’s window.
The family members in the room heard the officer telling Gebhard, who played football at Affon High School, to “get down, get down.” When Gebhard didn't comply, the police officer shot him twice in the chest, reported St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.
Gebhard was quickly taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
(1/2) At appx 5:50p an off-duty St. Louis County police officer was involved in a shooting after a suspect broke into his home in Lakeshire.— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) July 10, 2016
(2/2) The suspect, who was known to the family, demanded entry & threw a planter through a glass door. pic.twitter.com/dnDmNRmgEZ— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) July 10, 2016
The reaction on social media has been mixed with some lamenting the senseless loss of another black life while others using the tragic incident to mock the Black Lives Matter movement.
#TylerGebhard at what point did you think you could toss something through a window, enter a house and not get shot?— dfletcher (@Fireman1173) July 11, 2016
Another dindu pays for bad decisions. When will we as Americans collectively hold minorities to the same standards as whites? #TylerGebhard— Son of the West (@Goy_Sama) July 11, 2016
#TylerGebhard played a stupid game and won a very stupid prize!— Harley4freedom (@JeffCallahan75) July 11, 2016
Gebhard’s uncle, Patrick Brogan, of Waterloo, Illinois, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, his nephew and the officer were embroiled in an argument over Black Lives Matter on Facebook. He said Gebhard, who was of mixed race, did not participate in the civil rights group’s activities but empathized with their cause.
Brogan also reported Gebhard suffered from bipolar disorder and was often lax in taking his medications.
“He had a lot of mental problems the last few months,” Brogan said. “A lot of difficulties in life.”
“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.”
The officer, who is a three-year veteran, was placed on administrative leave after the shooting.
Tensions between the black community and law enforcement officers continue to rise after the deadly police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and sniper killings of five police officers in Dallas during a peaceful protest against police brutality.
Some police advocates believe the protesters are being misguided by the Black Lives Matter movement. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a talk show appearance said police officers think they have a target on their backs because of the movement.
“If you want to deal with this on the black side, you’ve got to teach your children to be respectful to the police and you’ve got to teach your children that the real danger to them is not the police,” said Giuliani. “The real danger to them, 99 out of 100 times, 9,900 out of 1,000 times (sic), are other black kids who are gonna kill them. That’s the way they’re gonna die.”