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THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
November 30, 1996
Author: Marshall Wilson, Chronicle South Bay Bureau
A nearly 10-hour standoff that began Thanksgiving Day ended before dawn yesterday when a Santa Clara police officer shot and killed a man who, apparently despondent over a failed marriage, had barricaded himself in his house and aimed his rifle at police officers. Sergeant Mark Kerby said Carl Chester Harlow was shot once in the head and died at the scene. No one else was injured. Harlow’s parents, who were in the house, escaped without incident.
“Officers) could see the barrel of the gun out the window, “Kerby said. He ignored repeated warnings to drop the weapon, drop the gun. He looked like he was pointing the rifle in the direction of officers. That’s when an officer made a split-second decision.”
The officer who fired the single shot is a six-year veteran and has been on the department’s SWAT team for three years. He has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by his department and the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. Kerby declined to release his name.
The incident began at 7:40 p.m. when a fight broke out between the man and his father, who is also named Carl, Kerby said. The man’s mother, Agnes Harlow, ran out of the single-story home at 1899 Bellomy St. — Harlow lived with his parents — and flagged down a police officer a block away on Winchester Boulevard.
The father left the home but the son remained inside. Agnes Harlow told police her son was armed with a rifle, was suicidal and had threatened that he would not be taken alive, Kerby said. Police said Harlow and his father were fighting Thursday night, but officers said they had no information that Harlow had threatened to kill either of his parents.
Officers thought they had the situation under control until about 11:20 p.m. Thursday, when Harlow ran outside, past a white picket fence and rose bushes, and pointed the rifle west on Bellomy, then ran back inside the house. Kerby said officers then called in the SWAT team.
Negotiators talked to him throughout the night. Kerby said Harlow apparently was on medication for depression and was upset over the breakup of his marriage.
During the long ordeal, Harlow seemed to go from being extremely upset and depressed to being in an emotional rage. He didn’t make any demands on negotiators, Kerby said. At 5:01 a.m., officers, who were crouching behind a shed and several parked vehicles next door, saw Harlow point the rifle outside a side window, Kerby said. Harlow did not shoot at anybody, Kerby said.
After the officer fired the fatal shot, other officers tossed tear gas inside the home and entered. They found Harlow dead in a rear bedroom. They also found a broken lamp and other items damaged during the fight with his father, Kerby said. Kerby said the rifle was loaded. Police had been called to the home 11 times in the past three years, Kerby said. Although most calls were for minor problems, an August 15 call involved an argument between the man and his ex- wife over the custody of their children, he said.
“It’s one of those tragic holiday things that gets out of control,” Kerby said of the shooting. “It was a situation that for over eight hours was contained and we thought we were making progress. We thought the suspect would eventually comply.”
Record Number: 10014
Copyright 1996 The Chronicle Publishing Co.