Police say 20-year-old Tyler Gebhard grabbed a concrete planter and broke a window at the home of an off-duty St. Louis county police officer after an argument on Facebook over Black Lives Matter. Gebhard reportedly tried to break into the home of the unidentified officer when the cop’s wife wouldn’t let him in Saturday evening. The cop shot and killed the invader, who was a family acquaintance, according to CBS News.
Before Tyler Gebhard broke into a cop’s house and was shot dead, he argued with the family online https://t.co/OuHR0H7ZZm
— Riverfront Times (@RiverfrontTimes) July 11, 2016
The officer was home with his wife, mother-in-law, and two children, who all ran upstairs to hide when the suspect gained entry. Tyler’s uncle, Patrick Brogan, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the officer and his nephew met through a church connection and had a fallout after arguing on Facebook over the growing unrest over the police-involved killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, respectively. The deaths of both men were followed by the deaths of five Dallas police officers who were shot by a sniper during a rally last week.
Gebhard supported Black Lives Matter but did not join any protests, according to the uncle. The family also said the former high school athlete suffered from bi-polar disorder and would periodically stop taking his medication, which worsened his condition. Police said Tyler had made several violent threats to the off-duty officer’s family and other members of the community.
“He had a lot of mental problems the last few months,” Brogan told reporters. “A lot of difficulties in life.”
After Tyler gained entry into the home through a window in the rear of the house, the officer shot him twice in the chest. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
“I don’t think the officer had a choice, I honestly don’t,” St. Louis county police chief Jon Belmar said at a press conference on Saturday. The officer was a three-year veteran with the department and was placed on administrative leave following the shooting.
“Tyler was going over to fight,” the uncle, said Brogan. “When he got there, he was met with a gun, and the gun killed him.”
I’m sure Tyler Gebhard just wanted to have a polite respectful discussion and explain the finer points of BLM pic.twitter.com/iULUM2zpKJ
— Nuthin4Sumpthin (@Ol_Bub) July 11, 2016
The continued deadly shootings of black men by police have heightened the mission of Black Lives Matter. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani called the movement “inherently racist.”
“Of course black lives matter, and they matter greatly,” Giuliani said. “But when you focus in on 1 percent of less than 1 percent of the murder that’s going on in America and you make it a national thing, and all of you in the media make it much bigger than the black kid that’s getting killed in Chicago every 14 hours, you create a disproportion.”
On Sunday, President Obama defended Black Lives Matter and the right of activists to demonstrate in cities across the United States.
“One of the great things about America is that individual citizens and groups of citizens can petition their government, can protest, can speak truth to power,” Mr. Obama told reporters in Madrid. “And that is sometimes messy and controversial but because of that ability to protest and engage in free speech, America over time has gotten better. We’ve all benefited from that.”
Deray McKesson speaks after being released from jail: Baton Rouge PD “only people that were violent last night.”https://t.co/Vys63ZHFWj
— ABC News (@ABC) July 10, 2016
In related news, DeRay Mckesson, one of the most prominent activists associated with the movement, was among 125 people arrested Saturday night in Baton Rouge during a demonstration of solidarity with residents angered by the recent death of Alton Sterling (see video above). Law officials released a statement entitled “A tale of two protest,” which noted that a march organized by local community leaders went off without a hitch, while another one organized by people outside the community resulted in the arrests, per CNN.
DeRay’s arrest was described as being “physically violent,” and Brittany Packnett, a co-founder with Mckesson of the activist collective Campaign Zero, said he was “clearly targeted.”
Black Lives Matter spurred the violent encounter between the off-duty officer and Tyler Gebhard, who graduated in 2014 from Affton High School. He claimed in a recent Facebook that he was joining the U.S. Marines.
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP Images]