Montgomery County police officer kills himself after traffic stop -- Gazette.Net


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A Montgomery County police officer killed himself early Monday after he was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding and possibly driving drunk in Talbot County.

Jed Ryan Bylsma, 30, of Gettysburg, Pa., was pulled over shortly before 1:30 a.m. in the eastbound lane of U.S. 50 near Md. 404 after a Maryland State Trooper conducting radar speed surveillance clocked Bylsma’s Nissan going 95 mph in a 55 mph zone, said Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.

The trooper, who was patrolling westbound U.S. 50 when he ran radar on the Nissan, stopped Bylsma near Skipton Creek and approached the car, Shipley said.

“The trooper smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage on [Bylsma’s] person and there were bottles of alcoholic beverages on the seat next to him at the time of the stop,” Shipley said.

Bylsma identified himself as a Montgomery County police officer and provided the trooper with identification, but, when the trooper returned to his cruiser to call for backup, Bylsma fled in his Nissan, leading the trooper on a high-speed chase, Shipley said.

A back-up trooper responding to the call set up tire spikes at U.S. 50 and Airport Road, blowing out several of Bylsma’s tires and forcing the vehicle to come to a stop a little more than five miles from the traffic stop, Shipley said. Both troopers shouted for Bylsma to exit the vehicle from a safe distance away, and approached the Nissan when Bylsma did not respond.

The troopers found Bylsma in the front seat dead from an apparent gunshot wound to his head, Shipley said. The troopers also noticed a handgun near Bylsma’s hand on the car’s center console, Shipley added.

“There was no indication of a firearm until the troopers went up and found that he had been shot,” Shipley said of the weapon. “The preliminary information would indicate that the shot occurred very quickly and possibly even before the troopers got out of their cars.”

Officer Rebecca Innocenti, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman, confirmed Bylsma was hired as a county police officer in February 2003.

“He had been on administrative leave and had been on a no-duty status for approximately one year,” Innocenti said. “We can’t comment on the nature of [his status] because it’s a personnel issue.”

Innocenti also confirmed the handgun recovered by state troopers in Bylsma’s center console was not his department-issued firearm.

“[Bylsma] was a patrol officer in Silver Spring for the majority of his career,” Innocenti added. “The Montgomery County police family is saddened by this morning’s events and our hearts go out to Jed’s family and friends.”

Bylsma was honored for his service as a volunteer county firefighter in a county press release issued Oct. 1, 2002. The release did not state what Bylsma was cited for, but he was listed as a firefighter out of the Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department.

According to online court records, Bylsma was named as a defendant in a paternity and child support case in October 2003 in Montgomery County Circuit Court. According to the online court records, Bylsma was ordered by a county judge to pay $718 per month in child support for an unspecified period of time as of Feb. 20, 2004.

jarias@gazette.net