They met at a local church – the police officer and the athlete – and a Facebook dispute over Black Lives Matter led to tragedy in St. Louis Saturday evening.
Tyler Gebhard, 20, was a former high school football star at Affton High School, where he graduated in 2014. After high school, he attended Southeast Missouri State University, where he was on the football roster, but never played in any games. His uncle said he struggled with bi-polar disorder, had a lot of mental problems, and wasn’t good about taking his medications for the disorder.
Authorities say Gebhard and the officer were not friends on Facebook, but both were involved in a church group on Facebook, where Gebhard had posted anti-law enforcement and anti-white threats.
Gebhard had shared numerous posts about police shootings of black men, as well as the five officers killed in Dallas. Some posts erupted into heated arguments and warnings of a race war. In one conversation Friday morning, he wrote, “Look man you better leave me alone or imma come looking for yoy.”
Saturday about 5:50 p.m., Gebhard went to the officer’s home and demanded to come inside. When the officer’s wife wouldn’t open the door, he picked up a 112 pound concrete planter off the porch, threw it through the back door, and charged into the house.
The wife ran into a back room to hide with her two children, a toddler and an infant, and her mother, while her husband went to face the intruder. The family was trying to escape through a bedroom window, and heard the officer yell to Gebhard, “get down, get down, get down!” and then they heard shots fired.
Gebhard was shot twice in the chest, and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Gebhard’s uncle, Patrick Brogan, said his nephew had a “lot of mental problems the last few months… a lot of difficulties in life.” He said the situation is even more painful, because several members of Gebhard’s family are in law enforcement as well.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the officer was in a very difficult position, but “I don’t think the officer had a choice – I honestly don’t.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the officer is a three-year veteran of the department and is now on administrative leave.
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