Death in Decker Police Shooting Ruled Suicide

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (April 28, 2009)—The State Medical Examiner's Office has preliminarily determined that the death of Daniel Decker, 46, of Leonardtown, on April 26 was the result of a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Decker was also shot by Deputy First Class Shawn Cathcart. Deputies encountered Decker in the home of his ex-girlfriend after a manhunt led them to the residence on Sunday. Police were called to the residence the day before after the woman reported that Decker had broken into the residence and threatened a murder-suicide. She escaped unharmed.

According to the medical examiner, Decker administered the fatal shot to himself immediately prior to being shot by Deputy Cathcart.

After the shooting, DFC Cathcart, a four and a half year veteran of the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office, was placed on administrative leave, per agency policy pending the conclusion of the investigation. As of this writing, DFC Cathcart is still on leave, per Cindy Allen, PIO for the sheriff's office.

The incident started on Saturday around 5:26 p.m. when police were called to a residence on Belvidere Lane in Leonardtown. Police determined that Decker unlawfully entered the victim's residence and began a verbal dispute with her. The woman asked Decker to leave the residence and he refused. Decker produced a long gun and made threats towards the woman and himself. The woman attempted to leave the residence but Decker grabbed and continued to detain her against her will.

According to police, the woman was eventually able to flee the residence and enter her vehicle. Decker followed and jumped on the hood of the vehicle and pointed the gun at her. The woman pulled out of her driveway causing Decker to fall off of the vehicle, say police.

The woman contacted the sheriff's office. However, by the time deputies were able to arrive, Decker had already fled.

Decker had been involved in an intimate relationship with the victim, which had ended several weeks ago, according to police. Police also say evidence from the scene revealed Decker was stalking the woman and threatening to harm himself.

Police subsequently filed a missing person's report classifying Decker as a critical missing person. An arrest warrant was also issued for Felony First Degree Assault.

On Sunday police say they received information indicating Decker may have returned to the victim's home. At approximately 10:20 a.m., deputies responded back to the residence and attempted to make contact with Decker via telephone and loud speaker. Deputies subsequently entered the residence to search, at which time they encountered Decker. Police say Decker was armed and gunfire was exchanged with deputies. Decker was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, as well as detectives from the St. Mary's County Bureau of Professional Responsibilities, responded to the scene to assume the investigation. The latter department is commonly referred to as internal affairs by the public. Police say their investigation is still ongoing.

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