GAITHERSBURG, Md -- The horrible shootings just seem to keep coming. Tonight, a Montgomery County Police Sergeant is struggling with the death of his wife and his son.
Sgt. James Stirkens tells investigators he had to shoot his son last night to stop him from continuing to stab his wife. Bruce Leshan reports from the shaken Gaithersburg neighborhood.
Neighbors say last night was not the first time police were called to this home, which is now ringed with police tape.25-year-old Chris Stirkens had been arrested for a couple of minor pot offenses. But investigators are still trying to figure out how that could escalate to stabbing his mom and getting shot to death by his dad.
One of the neighbors, Shawn Buford says, "Main thing I want to tell you: He was a good cop. Is good? Is good. Loving family man. Loving kids. Good man..."
Neighbors are struggling to understand what could have happened in a second floor bedroom inside the carelly kept home on Lake Katrine Terrace.
"Anything that could lead you to believe Christopher could do something like this? Not at all. Not at all," says Buford.
Police say Sgt Stirkens, a cop for 27 years was inside the house, off duty, when heard noises and found his 25-year-old son Christopher stabbing his mother Denise.
"There was some type of domestic dispute. The officer observed his son attacking his wife with some type of sharp instrument. Observed some type of stabbing motion. In an effort to stop this attack, the officer discharged his handgun and shot his son," says Capt. Jim Daly with Montgomery County Police.
The son was dead at the scene. Doctors declared Denise dead soon after she arrived at the hospital. Police commanders put Sgt Stirkens on routine administrative leave until they figure this all out.
Police said, "Whether there's a mental health component, whether there's a substance abuse component.."
Christopher Stirkens was busted for marijuana possession and for paraphernalia. A neighbor says he was terrified of his friends and says police have been to the house before.
Another neighbor Laura Sissom says, "I never saw him. And you felt that was strange. Makes you wonder. Did something happen to make him snap."
The final post on Denise Stirkens Facebook page was for Mental Health Awareness Week."Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are not a sign of weakness," she wrote. "They are signs of having tried to remain strong for too long."
The Stirkens have two other daughters. One can only imagine what they are going through tonight.