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Investigation: Man committed suicide in Potomac Towers jump

March 15, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

An investigation has determined that a man committed suicide Friday when he jumped from the roof of the Potomac Towers housing complex in Hagerstown, city Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

Eric L. Baumgartner, 57, of Fairfield, Pa., was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The family has been notified," Smith said Tuesday. "We have concluded it was a suicide."

Ted Shankle, executive director of the Hagerstown Housing Authority, which operates Potomac Towers, said in an e-mail that Baumgartner was hired by the housing authority in 2007 and worked as a security guard.

Shankle said Baumgartner worked at Potomac Towers and other communities within the housing authority's jurisdiction.

"Eric was well liked by his co-workers at the housing authority and particularly by his fellow security officers," Shankle said. "He was a very welcome addition when he came to us, and his absence will leave a large void."

Baumgartner was a police officer in Frederick, Md., before he began working for the housing authority.

Retired Frederick police Lt. Tom Chase said he worked with Baumgartner and was devastated when he heard about his friend's death.

"He was a very genuine person," Chase said. "He was a very compassionate and professional police officer. Everyone liked and respected him."

Chase said Baumgartner was hired by the Frederick Police Department in 1976 and worked as a detective, patrolman and K-9 officer.  

Police were called to Potomac Towers at about 1:25 p.m. Friday to investigate a body that was discovered in the grass on the east side of the building, Hagerstown police Detective Tammy Jurado said at the scene a short time after Baumgartner's body was found.

Jurado said she couldn't comment further until the investigation was finished.

Potomac Towers, at 11 W. Baltimore St., is 13 stories high and houses senior citizens.

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