UPDATED: Jan. 30, 2014 12:15 p.m.
ORIGINAL: Jan. 29, 2014 11:40 p.m.
GAITHERSBURG, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — An off-duty police officer shot and killed his son as the younger man attacked his own mother at their Montgomery County home Wednesday night, authorities say.
The fatal incident occurred in a second-floor bedroom at the officer’s home in the 7400 block of Lake Katrine Terrace in Gaithersburg just after 8 p.m.
Police say James Stirkens was off-duty when he fired at his 25-year-old son as he attacked his own mother — Stirkens’ wife — with an unidentified sharp object. The son, Christopher Stirkens, died at the home.
James Stirkens called 911 and attempted life-saving measures on his 53-year-old wife before medics arrived at the residence. The woman, Denise Stirkens, later succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.
Montgomery County Police Capt. Jim Daly says the family had been engaged in a domestic dispute prior to the incident, but the reason for the fight was not immediately known. Denise Stirkens was too critically injured to be interviewed by police.
“It’s a tragic situation, unimaginable,” Daly said.
Police say all three family members lived at the home.
“The challenge we have here is there were only three people in the house,” Daly said. “We don’t have anyone else.”
James Stirkens, a 27-year veteran of the Montgomery County Police Department, is a patrol sergeant in the Silver Spring District. Police say he has been placed on routine administrative leave but no charges have been placed.
Daly could not say whether Stirkens used his department-issued revolver in the shooting.
Officers returned to the home to continue the investigation shortly after sunrise Thursday.
Neighbor Billy Waclchalk says the shooting comes as a big surprise.
“These are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. They’re very talkative, very supportive of this neighborhood,” said Waclchalk. “We’re devastated by it.”
WNEW’s George Mesthos contributed to this report. Follow him on Twitter.
(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)