CRIME

Montgomery Co. officer shoots son after son attacks officer's wife

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GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) - The home of a well-respected Montgomery County Police sergeant is an active crime scene, full of detectives and cordoned-off with yellow tape

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Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, police say Sgt. James Stirkens, 58, fatally shot his son Chris Stirkens, 25, in an upstairs bedroom. Stirkens' son was reportedly stabbing his mother, Denise Stirkens, 53, at the time. A 27-year veteran of the force, Stirkens then lowered his weapon and picked-up a phone to dial 911.

Dispatcher: "James calling. He shot his son. It's going to be an officer that's involved... Okay I have an update, the caller saying the son is 10-7 (deceased), and the wife is gasping for breath."

Officer: "Roger that."

Patrol officers arrived at the home in 7400 block of Lake Katrine Terrace to find Chris Stirkens lying dead from an apparent gunshot wound. Paramedics rushed Denise Stirkens to an area hospital where she passed from stab wounds.

By Thursday morning, a police cruiser sat guard outside the Stirkens' modest colonial-style home. Neighbors peered-out windows and cracked-open front doors, curious about what plagued a family that seemed so, "normal."

"It saddened me to have to come out my door and see that tape over there," neighbor Shawn Buford said." "She (Denise Stirkens) was just a loving-caring mother and neighbor. Just a joyous person."

To help make ends meets, Denise Stirkens, a mother of three, substitute taught at a cluster of Montgomery County Public Schools, a job she'd held since March 2000. Police say her two adult daughters weren't home at the time of the attack.

"They seemed like nice enough people," neighbor Laura Sissom remarked. "There's four or five different households nearby that have cops in it. So we always thought this must be a pretty safe neighborhood."

A 2006 graduate of Magruder High School, friends say Chris Stirkens was a stand-out football and basketball player. Back when times were better, his parents purchased a page in his senior yearbook, writing, "We are so very proud of you. You've brought joy to our hearts. We wish you much success and hope all your dreams come true."

Montgomery County Circuit and District Court records show the 25-year-old had a history of financial and narcotic troubles. There was a lien of $1,100 in May 2010 and a possession of marijuana citation in May 2009. Police also busted the him for possession of paraphernalia in September 2012. The records however, show no disposition of violence.

"This is a kid (Chris Stirkens) going through life and he just made a very bad decision," Buford added. "He (James Stirkens) is a good man, a good cop, nice wife, good family. Everybody has their problems in the household, and it's just sad that it had to come to this."

Per protocol, Sgt. Stirkens, who's assigned to the Silver Spring district, was placed on administrative leave following the Wednesday night shooting. Police say he was uninjured during the attack.

"It's a decision that happened in his house and he had to take control over it. I can't even comprehend what he's going through. God bless him and his family," Buford concluded.

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