By Nicole Hensley: Baltimore County police shot and killed a 23-year-old mom Monday after she allegedly barricaded herself inside her apartment with her 5-year-old son when the officers tried to serve her an arrest warrant for traffic violations.
The boy was wounded in the gun battle between Korryn Gaines and police, although it’s unclear who shot him. He sustained non-life threatening injuries to a limb.
The gunfire ended a tense, hours-long standoff at the Randallstown, Md., apartment complex. Gaines appeared to document the stalemate on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, posting a video of the boy, captioned “My son is not a hostage.”
The child responded that the police were at their door and “trying to kill us.”
Another video Gaines posted showed an officer standing in the doorway of her home.
Her desperate account of the standoff then vanished because of a request by police to temporarily suspend her accounts through the Silicon Valley giant, confirming suspicions that surfaced late Monday that authorities had a hand in repressing her posts and videos.
Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson justified the decision based on “exigent circumstances” he detailed at a press conference Tuesday.
“Why? In order to preserve the integrity of the negotiation process and for the safety of our personnel, her child,” Johnson explained. “Gaines was posting video of the operation as it unfolded. Followers were encouraging her not to comply with negotiations request that she surrender peacefully.”
Facebook does take requests from law enforcement regarding “matters involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury,” but the “Information for Law Enforcement Authorities” page lacks information on deactivating accounts for police.
Gaines, during the standoff, acknowledged the outpouring of comments that inspired police to request to deactivate her account, according to Facebook posts obtained by the Daily News.
“If you’re not fighting for me, please stay away,” Gaines wrote shortly after noon. “You’ll only give them more reason to kill me because you’re all stupid.”
The standoff began just before 9:30 a.m. Monday when three police officers knocked on Gaines’ door intending to serve two arrest warrants: one for Gaines’ previous traffic violations and another for another man inside the home.
Nobody answered the door, so the cops entered using a key from the apartment’s landlord. Inside, officers found Gaines sitting on the floor pointing a shotgun at them.
The officers retreated to the hallway, and a man ran from the apartment with a 1-year-old boy, authorities said. That man was arrested.
Police negotiators arrived to talk to Gaines, but the woman continued to point her weapon at the officers, officials said. Around 3 p.m., she pointed the gun directly at an officer and said, “If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.”
That’s when an officer opened fire and shot Gaines, who fired back. She was hit several times and pronounced dead at the scene. No officers were wounded.
Johnson said his officer shot the woman because she had pointed her shotgun at him.
He added that “we were concerned about the safety of the child.”
Police said they could not confirm where the 5-year-old was at the time of the shooting.
A video from March of the traffic stop that led to the warrant appears to show Gaines being pulled over for driving without the proper tags.
Police said that in place of a license plate was a sign that read: “Any government official who compromises this pursuit to happiness and right to travel, will be held criminally responsible and fined, as this is a natural right to freedom.”
The mom recorded videos during the stop and posted them to her Instagram. In one clip, she told her son, who was sitting in the back seat, that the officers were going to “try to fight” her and encouraged him to keep filming if she could not.
An officer told her she’d be arrested if she didn’t get out of her car when a tow truck came to ferry it away.
“When you put your hands on me, I promise you will have to murder me,” she said in one of the videos.
Gaines defiantly threw her citation out of the window and placed the child on her lap as a barrier between police and herself. The cops then cuffed her from behind and dragged her out of the vehicle kicking and screaming.
She reportedly yelled at her child, demanding the boy bite the officer, according to WBAL-TV.