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Officer Forced to Fatally Shoot Teenage Son

Officer Forced to Fatally Shoot Teenage Son

a Hatfield Township police officer, sits on the porch of a home on Oxford Road in Towamencin shortly after police and paramedics were called to the area for a shooting Wednesday. [Video screen capture]

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

June 09, 2011

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA – A Montgomery County police officer fatally shot his 17-year-old son when the teenager attacked him with a hunting knife Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

Stephen Schmitz, a junior at North Penn Senior High School, was shot in his Towamencin Township home about 3 p.m. by his father, Eric B. Schmitz, 56, a lieutenant with the Hatfield Township Police Department, authorities said.

Authorities did not identify the teenager, but friends confirmed it was Stephen Schmitz. Before officials even acknowledged his death, a Facebook memorial page had been created for him. By about 11 p.m., it had received more than 1,300 “likes.”

The knife had a five-inch fixed blade with an overall length of 10 inches, according to a news release issued Wednesday night by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Towamencin Township Police Chief Paul T. Dickinson.

The father was cooperating with the township and county investigation and was being treated at a hospital for injuries from the attack, Ferman and Dickinson said.

Towamencin police had been called twice before to the house, in the 100 block of Oxford Road, they said.

On April 30, police were called because the teen was enraged, they said. He reportedly had made vague threats in the past to harm himself.

Ferman and Dickinson said the tension in the household had subsided, but police were called back May 26, when the boy threatened to kill himself.

Stephen Schmitz was involuntarily committed that day to the Horsham Clinic, Ferman and Dickinson said. He was released Tuesday.

Detectives continued to process the shooting scene and conduct interviews Wednesday night. They asked that anyone with information about the behavior of the teen, including threats he may have made, call the Montgomery County Detective Bureau at 610-278-3368 or Towamencin Township police at 215-368-7600.

Investigators cordoned off the property with yellow police tape and put up a blue tarpaulin near the side of the house. About 5:30 p.m., a county coroner’s van arrived.

A half-dozen teenagers clutching cellphones stood solemnly at one end of the barricaded street Wednesday night. None wanted to comment.

On the Facebook memorial page, fellow North Penn students expressed sadness and shock over his death.

“I can’t believe this! It seems so unreal, saw you in 4th period today. you were such a nice guy. R.I.P Stephen,” wrote Jenny Karim, 16, a sophomore at North Penn.

She later said in a Facebook message to a reporter that she did not know Stephen well, but that “he was a really sweet guy” who sat in front of her in chorus during the school year.

Another student wrote on the memorial page: “I remember that you were Zeke in Penndale’s musical High School Musical 3 years ago. RIP:’(”

The memorial page identifies Stephen as “actor/director.” He also played lacrosse, another student wrote.

His older brother, Drew, also received a steady stream of supportive messages from friends on Facebook.

Their father is listed on the Hatfield Police Department’s website as its “right to know” officer and the lieutenant of administration, “responsible for the internal police department function.”

Hatfield Township Manager Andrew Haines, who had apparently left for the day and rushed back to the township building, said: “We have no comment at this point until we ourselves learn more.”

Tom Zipfel, president of the five-member Hatfield Township Board of Commissioners, said he had known Eric Schmitz for about five years.

“He’s a wonderful police officer, there is no doubt about that,” Zipfel said. “He has served us fantastically for many years. . . . You couldn’t find a more decent man or a more decent police officer.”

Zipfel said he did not know enough about the shooting to comment, but he added: “Our township as a whole is thinking about him and his family.”

  • Car_004_max50


    about 3 years ago


    I can not even begin to imagine what the Lt is going through. my prayers go out to the Lt, his family, friends and for the soul of his son.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    i think that was a good comment trooper15. but i don't agree that terrible people come from good parents. a good parent will correct bad behavior, small and large. a good parent will also realize when their child is a sociopath or depressed and then seek professional help. most people are terrible parents (hence the never-ending duties of officers) and don't give their children attention, don't teach them right from wrong, and don't recognize when their child needs drastic help. if you fall short in any of these standards, you are not as good of a parent as you believe. fix it before you end up in the officer's shoes.

  • Gas_mask_1_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Unimaginable. Thoughts and prayers all the way around.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    I can't imagine how this officer feels - I trust that God will give him & his family strength to make it through the tough times ahead.

  • Cartoonme_max50


    about 3 years ago


    This is horrible. Thoughts and Prayers out to the family of Lt Schmitz.

  • Imagesca4xarl3gatekeeper911_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Very Tragic indeed, My Prayers for the Lt. and also My Condolences, I Do agree with Brother Darsavmo, Someone needs to investigate why the boy was released from the clinic after trying to commit suicide.

  • Mike___odin_max50


    about 3 years ago


    My thoughts and prayers go out to Lt Schmitz and his whole family.

  • Osp_patch_icon_max50


    about 3 years ago


    newyorkranger, thats a tough opinion there.....we don't really know the situation here.....the best of parents can produce the worst of kids at times......i honestly don't know what surprses me more...the sad situation or the judgement in your comment.....everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however, we shouldn't be so quick to make assumptions.......and that....thats just my prayers will be with this family....

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    My thoughs and prayers go out to my brother officer and his family.It is indeed a sad situation that you have to kill your own son duringa fit of rage.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    Lt, may you find the peace that only God can give during this unimaginably difficult time. Prayers go out for you and your family.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    i would have never been able to shoot my own child. i might have tazered/kicked him into submission, but i never would have used a gun.

    it sounds to me like the man was too pre-occupied with being an officer...not a good father. can any of you imagine your child attacking you with a knife? i doubt it would happen to anyone that had been a good parent.

    i think a lot of bones are going to be pouring from the officer's closet before this investigation is through. i pray that he never finds peace in killing his own child, 40 years his junior. id sooner let the child kill me...

  • 000000000000000aaaaaaaaaa_max50


    about 3 years ago


    My heart goes out to this officer and his family. Things like this should never happen but do...Hold fast to your faith brother

  • Usa_max50


    about 3 years ago


    unimaginable sadness and grief. May God grant you strength and guidance and may his angels be at your side to help.

  • Segway-police-unit-china_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Sad… truly sad. My heart goes out to these people. Time for some critical thinking though. What would you say about this situation of the father wasn’t a LEO.. pretend he was a civilian.. what would your comment be then? How would you respond to a call like that? Would you arrest the man who shot his son that had a knife? Or would you let him walk out of there?

  • 2008_duke_leaving_for_the_army_042_max50


    about 3 years ago


    My prayers are all I have to offer in this tragic time ,may God give you peace and comfort

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