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Police: Deputy wounded, man dead after shots fired in fight

July 12, 2021 GMT

NORTH EAST, Md. (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy was wounded and a man was found dead after an exchange of gunfire when the deputy and state troopers responded to a father-and-son fight at a Maryland apartment Sunday, police said.

A 911 caller reported a man with a gun in the apartment and two troopers who heard of the disturbance on the radio responded to help the sheriff’s deputy, Police Superintendent Col. Jerry Jones said at a news conference Monday. When they approached the front door, they heard arguing and someone saying, “He has a gun,” Jones said.

They were immediately fired on when they entered the apartment, and one trooper, fearing for their lives, returned fire as they retreated to the landing, he said. They then learned that the deputy had been shot, he said. When the gunfire ceased, they called the father out to safety and set up a perimeter. A special response team cleared the apartment and found the man’s son dead in the kitchen with a 9 mm gun nearby, Jones said. The red dot laser sight on the gun was aimed at the front door, he said.

The body of the man, identified as 24-year-old Jonathan Balchunas, was taken to the medical examiner for an autopsy that police expect will reveal where the shot that killed him came from, Jones said.

In an interview, Balchunas’ father told police that they fought all day and again before he called 911, Jones said. Balchunas put a gun to his father’s head and told him that if police came, he would kill them too, Jones said.

The trooper who fired is on routine administrative leave and the other trooper is on administrative duty. The wounded deputy was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the left arm and released, Sheriff Scott Adams said. The state police homicide and internal affairs units are investigating.