ST. LOUIS COUNTY • County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch’s office has concluded that an off-duty St. Louis County police officer acted in self-defense last summer when he fatally shot an intruder at his home in Lakeshire, a small city in South County.
The document, provided to the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday, notes that Tyler Gebhard, 20, had violently broken in, was impaired by marijuana, was known to have mental illness and had spoken of killing police. It calls the shooting justified.
Neither McCulloch’s report nor police have publicly identified the officer, but officials have said he had been on the force for three years and was assigned to MetroLink.
Gebhard, of the Affton area, was shot in the kitchen of the officer’s home about 5:25 p.m. July 9 after throwing a 120-pound concrete planter through back door windows and entering the home, police and the report say.
The man was acquainted with the officer through a church group. The officer’s wife, their 2-year-old and 2-month-old daughters and his mother-in-law were present, and had hid in a bedroom.
Gebhard told the officer several times that he believed he was Jesus and told the officer to give him a gun, McCulloch’s report says. Gebhard lunged at the officer and the officer fired, grazing Gebhard in the neck.
The officer then ordered Gebhard to the ground but he refused and charged again, prompting the officer to fire his .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun, hitting him twice in the chest. Gebhard died at St. Anthony’s Medical Center.
Gebhard had visited the officer’s home the day before the shooting, the report says. At that time, he spoke to the officer’s wife about tension between police and the community and said he could not trust officers. She reminded him her husband was a police officer, and he left.
Gebhard’s family has told police he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and that he had a history of not taking his medications, according to police. Gebhard was a graduate of Affton High School, where he played football, and had attended Southeast Missouri State University.
His grandparents have been critical of the investigation. They could not be reached about the report Wednesday.
The review says the officer “fired his personal weapon in the proper exercise of self-defense, defense of others, and under the protection of the Castle Doctrine.” That refers to Missouri’s self-defense law, passed in 2007, that protects homeowners from being charged or being found liable for damages if they harm invaders.
“The evidence clearly establishes that (the officer) was justified in using deadly force to protect himself and his family against the unlawful entry made by Gebhard into the residence,” McCulloch’s report concludes.
His stepfather told police Gebhard’s behavior at times “had spiraled out of control,” the report says. Gebhard’s family last had contact with him July 8, when he told a stepsister that “this is the last time you’re ever going to see me. I’m headed to Dallas to start killing cops.” (Five Dallas police officers had been slain by a sniper the day before.)
His family tried to contact him the next day but failed and reported his vehicle missing to police.
McCulloch’s report says that a toxicologist concluded Gebhard’s “perception and judgment were impaired” because of the level of marijuana in his system.