A St. Louis man is dead after a Facebook dispute about the Black Lives Matters movement turned into a real world confrontation with an off-duty police officer late Saturday afternoon.
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Authorities are still trying to understand exactly what happened, but relatives of Tyler Gebhard–the young man killed on Saturday–say he was struggling with mental issues.
“He walked over there and into a gunfight,” Patrick Brogan, Gebhard’s uncle, said. “When he got there, he was met with a gun and the guy killed him.”
Authorities say Gebhard knew the officer who he’d been fighting with. Gebhard reportedly made threats to the officer’s family and other “uninvolved members of the community.”
When Gebhard arrived at the officer’s house, he hurled a 50-pound concrete flower pot through the window and then forced his way into the house. The officer’s wife, mother-in-law and two kids managed to escape through a back window. Then the cop shot and killed Gebhard.
“I don’t think the officer had a choice — I honestly don’t,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters.
“He was a sweetheart,” said Nikki Toal, a friend of Gebhard. “The nicest person you could ever meet.”
“Tyler was a good student and a good athlete,” said Dan Oliver, Gebhard’s high school football coach.
Yet Gebhard had been struggling with bi-polar disorder. “He was like a normal 20-year-old, (the family) had to stay on him to take his medication,” said his uncle.
“He had a lot of mental problems the last few months,” Brogan said. “A lot of difficulties in life.”
Gebhard’s Facebook page contains posts about the recent police shootings, and the shootings in Dallas, and warns a “race war.”
It was one of these posts that drove Gebhart to confront the off-duty officer face-to-face. When the man’s wife wouldn’t let him into the house, Gebhard broke in.
Gebhard was shot twice in the chest and pronounced dead at the local hospital. The officer is now on administrative leave.
“We are sick for both families because it was senseless,” Brogan said. “It was a senseless death.”