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Hunt for armed man after altercation near Clear Spring ends peacefully

August 08, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

CLEAR SPRING -- A frantic phone call from a mother in the Gruber Road area near Clear Spring Thursday led to a massive manhunt that ended peacefully less than an hour later.

Debra McKee called the Washington County Sheriff's Department at about 11 a.m. to ask for help, saying she was involved in an altercation with her adult son at a home they share at 13242 Gruber Road, deputies said.

Sheriff's Department Sgt. Daniel Faith said Debra McKee told him she was barricaded in her bedroom and her son, Adam James McKee, 28, was trying to break down the door.

McKee said during their conversation that her son had left the door and she heard what she thought was a gunshot in the home, Faith said.

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"We lost contact with her then," Faith said.

Later, the officer got her back on the phone while the son was listening in on a different phone in the house.

At that point, the son fled the house on foot with a rifle and police who had gathered outside the home began coordinating a search of the nearby woods, Faith said.

McKee had said he was going to kill a cop and then kill himself, deputies alleged in a news release.

Faith said Adam McKee was taken into custody at 12:10 p.m. by Maryland State Police, who reached him by cell phone after he fled into a wooded area -- armed with a scoped rifle.

"The entire incident lasted 24 minutes," Faith said.

The search involved members of the Sheriff's Department, Maryland State Police the Department of Natural Resources, an aviation and K-9 units, according to a prepared release from the Sheriff's Department.

McKee was taken to Washington County Hospital for an evaluation, Faith said. He was still being assessed in the emergency room late Thursday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was no longer listed as a patient there as of 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

No charges had been filed Thursday night.

The incident and the police presence shocked neighbors, who said they live in a usually quiet country area, free of crime.

Michael Kallas, who lives next door to the McKees at 13248 Gruber Road, said police told him to leave his house.

When asked about Adam McKee, Kallas said he had never had any problems with him.

"He's always been a nice boy to us," Kallas said.

Other neighbors said they saw police officers near the McKees' home and heard officers yelling, "Get down."

At one point, several officers armed with rifles ran through their front yard, neighbors said.

"I expect this kind of stuff in the city, not out in the country," said Tracey Staley.

Gruber Road is a narrow, winding country road on which drivers wave to each other as they pass.

A neighbor had warned her to lock the doors and windows, and stay inside, Staley said.

A 19-year-old woman at home on Gruber Road thought she heard an intruder Thursday morning, the woman's mother, Susan Snyder, said.

The frightened woman got into her car to leave, and when she opened the garage door, police were everywhere, said Snyder, who works at The Herald-Mail. As the woman was pulling out of the driveway and turning onto the road, she saw police take McKee into custody, her mother said.

On Thursday afternoon, a woman sitting on the porch at the McKee home refused to talk to a reporter.

Officers searching the area found McKee's rifle near a stream about 20 yards from where he was taken into custody, said Lt. Mark Knight of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Police took all of Adam McKee's firearms, Knight said.

-- Reporter Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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