SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – A Maryland man was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside his house, killing him and wounding his girlfriend, an attorney for the 21-year-old manâ€™s family said Friday.
The Montgomery County Police Department said in a news release Friday that Duncan Socrates Lemp â€œconfrontedâ€ police and was shot by one of the officers early Thursday. Rene Sandler, an attorney for Lempâ€™s relatives, said an eyewitness gave a â€œcompletely contraryâ€ account of the shooting. She said police could have â€œabsolutely no justificationâ€ for shooting Lemp based on what she has heard about the circumstances.
â€œThe facts as I understand them from eyewitnesses are incredibly concerning,â€ she told The Associated Press.
The warrant that police obtained to search the Potomac home Lemp shared with his parents and 19-year-old brother doesnâ€™t mention any â€œimminent threatâ€ to law enforcement or the public, Lempâ€™s relatives said in a statement released Friday by their lawyers. Nobody in the house that morning had a criminal record, the statement adds.
â€œAny attempt by the police to shift responsibility onto Duncan or his family, who were sleeping when the police fired shots into their home, is not supported by the facts,â€ the statement says.
A police department spokesman didnâ€™t immediately respond to the statements by the family or their lawyer.
The department’s news release on Friday says tactical unit members were serving a â€œhigh-riskâ€ search warrant around 4:30 a.m. when one of the unit’s officers fatally shot Lemp. Police detectives recovered three rifles and two handguns from the home. Lemp was prohibited from possessing firearms, police said.
â€œDetectives were following up on a complaint from the public that Lemp, though prohibited, was in possession of firearms,â€ the release says without elaborating.
Sandler said the family believes police fired gunshots, not a flashbang or other projectile, from outside the home, including through Lempâ€™s bedroom window, while he and his girlfriend were sleeping. Nobody in the home heard any warnings or commands before police opened fire, she said.
â€œThere is no warrant or other justification that would ever allow for that unless there is an imminent threat, which there was not,â€ Sandler said.
The police department’s news release says the â€œfacts and circumstances of the encounterâ€ are still under investigation. Prosecutors from neighboring Howard County will review the evidence at the conclusion of the investigation.
â€œAn established agreement between the Montgomery County Stateâ€™s Attorneyâ€™s Office and the Howard County Stateâ€™s Attorneyâ€™s Office stipulates that when an officer-involved shooting involving injury or death occurs in one county, the other countyâ€™s Stateâ€™s Attorneyâ€™s Office will review the event,â€ police said.
Lemp was Caucasian, according to Sandler. She did not know the race of the unidentified officer involved in the shooting because she said the officers were wearing masks. The officer was placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure after police shootings.
Sandler said Lempâ€™s grief-stricken family is traumatized. Their statement says they intend to â€œhold each and every person responsible for his death.â€
â€œWe believe that the body camera footage and other forensic evidence from this event will support what Duncanâ€™s family already knows, that he was murdered,â€ the statement says.
Lemp worked as a software developer and was trying to raise money for a startup company, according to friends and co-workers.
â€œHe was a talented, smart guy. Super nice. Didnâ€™t deserve to get shot,â€ said Samuel Reid, whose Canadian software company employed Lemp as an independent contractor.
Tsolmondorj Natsagdorj, 24, of Fairfax, Virginia, said he met Lemp in 2016 and bonded with him over their shared interest in cryptocurrency. They also talked about politics. He described Lemp as a libertarian who frequented the 4chan and Reddit message boards, sites popular with internet trolls.
â€œDuncan was a young guy with a bright future as an entrepreneur,â€ Natsagdorj said. â€œHe was working on things to change the world.â€
On social media accounts that friends said belonged to him, Lempâ€™s username was â€œYungQuant.â€ On an internet forum called â€œMy Militia,â€ someone who identified himself as Duncan Lemp, of Potomac, and posted under the username â€œyungquantâ€ said he was â€œan active III%’r and looking for local members & recruits.â€ Thatâ€™s an apparent reference to the Three Percenters, a wing of the militia movement. The groupâ€™s logo, the Roman numeral â€œIII,â€ has become popular with anti-government extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
On his Instagram account, Lemp recently posted a photograph that depicts two people holding up rifles and included the term â€œboogaloo,â€ slang used by militia members and other extremists to describe a future civil war in the U.S.
Friends said they never heard Lemp espouse any anti-government rhetoric. Sandler said Lemp was not a part of any anti-government or militia-type group.
â€œHe was pro-America and supported wholeheartedly all the protections of the Constitution,â€ she said.