Services held for Huckeba; slain in line of duty

July 13, 1977

More than 1000 colleagues attend funeral of policeman

A Sykesville resident, described by his fellow workers as a man who “loved his job, and loved to help people,” was buried Saturday.

The 26-year-old man, Charles Alan Huckeba, died doing what he believed in, thus becoming the first Baltimore County policeman to be slain in a shooting incident in the department’s 103-year history.

Officer Huckeba was killed by a gunman when he answered a call for assistance  from Charles S. Fessenden in Lansdowne. Mr. Fessenden had reported that his 19-year-old son was disorderly and uncontrollable.

Officer Huckeba and Officer John W. Stern arrived at the house to find the father locked out. When the infuriated father kicked open the door, his 19-year-old son Albert was seen standing in the doorway with a rifle.

The three men took cover in different directions. Officer Huckeba ran back toward his car, parked across the street, to radio for help. He was shot in the face and fell beside the car.

When Officer Stern tried to go to his assistance, he was struck in the back by another shot. As ambulances waited nearby, police units tried unsuccessfully to reach the wounded men. Police reported that more than 200 shots were fired during the two-hour gun battle.

The gunman was felled by two shots fired by a member of the police Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT). The officer had been authorized to shoot to kill so that police could reach the two wounded men.

Officer Huckeba was taken to St. Agnes Hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy showed that he had died instantly from the shot.

Officer Stern remains in critical condition at University of Maryland Hospital Institute for Emergency Medicine.

More than 1000 policemen attended the funeral services Saturday in Catonsville. Many were red-eyed as they filed out of St. Mark’s Catholic Church following the hour-long mass, officiated by the Rev. John Mike, a county police chaplain.

The young priest praised policemen for pursuing good as part of their occupation, adding, “Today we mourn because we see good wasted.”

Police formed an honor guard for the mourners. Patrolman, Charles E. Myer, of the county police honor guard, performed a muffled drum roll at graveside. At the conclusion of the prayers, three vollies of rifle fire were sounded and “Taps” was played by patrolman Charles L. Clayman, Sr.

Officer Huckeba’s widow, Deborah, was presented with the flag which had been draped over the casket.

Charles and Deborah Huckeba lived in the 7000 block of Brown St., Sykesville. They were the parents of a two-year-old son, Wyatt.

Friends and neighbors remember Officer Huckeba as a devoted father and family man.

“He loved his son. He loved his job. He loved people,” said his commanding officer Daniel Huggins. “He cared about people. That was the main reason he was a policeman. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to help someone else. He game of himself all the time.”

Born in Baltimore 26 years ago, Officer Huckeba grew up in the Lansdowne area. He graduated from Patapsco Senior High School in 1969 and attended the University of Maryland and Essex Community College.

In 1971, he joined the Army National Guard, later switching to the Air National Guard. He had nearly completed his six-year term at the time of his death.

In 1974, he joined the Howard County police department. While on that force, he received several letters of citizen appreciation and an official letter of commendation from the former Howard County police chief, G. Russell Walters.

He was commended for helping a person in need of blood. The Howard County Hospital had issued an emergency call for blood at  3 a.m. for a patient in surgery. Officer Huckeba responded immediately.

Officer Huckeba transferred to the Baltimore County force in 1976 and was assigned to the Wilkens District.

His hobbies included reading, fishing and karate, in which he held a black belt.

He had recently become a licensed real estate agent, intending to pursue that activity on a part-time basis.

The Huckeba family moved to Sykesville approximately two years ago.

Deborah Huckeba accompanied her husband’s casket in the hearse during the funeral procession. Officers commented on her composure during the service.

“She’s a unique woman,” said Sgt. Huggins. “They were the kind of people that make you put on your uniform the next day and go to work…proud to be a policeman.”

Besides his wife and son, Officer Huckeba is survived by his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Oscar D. Huckeba, and two sisters, Mrs. Patricia A. Hoover and Mrs. Inez Caruso, all of Baltimore.

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