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HAMBURG MAN'S DEATH DURING BREAK-IN RULED JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE

The death of a Hamburg man with mental problems was a justifiable homicide, authorities ruled Monday.

Andrew M. Lock was killed Friday night when he broke into a home near Pittsburgh, assaulted a boy and then was struck by the boy's father with a baseball bat.

The decision by Washington County District Attorney John Pettit means no criminal charges will be filed against the boy's father, James Liermann.

Police said Liermann was defending his son when he hit Lock with a baseball bat after Lock entered his Washington County home, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.

"Given the circumstances, the decision was made because it was a forcible entry and the man recklessly endangered another person's life," said Trooper David Vanderaar of the Pennsylvania State Police criminal investigation unit.

An autopsy performed Sunday by the coroner's office showed Lock, 40, of Highview Parkway, died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Monday, authorities released more details about the home invasion and the traffic accident that occurred minutes before.

Police reported that Lock had been suicidal and that co-workers said he was on medication to treat his depression.

Hamburg police were attempting to locate Lock after he left early from his job at Costanzo's Bakery in Cheektowaga and his wife called Hamburg police at about 5 p.m. to report him missing.

Police suspect Lock left work and then drove his Dodge Neon to Washington County's Somerset Township.

Officials said he was driving on Lusk Road in a rural area at 8:30 p.m. when his car struck a utility pole, which snapped and fell on the car. Moderate to heavy rain was falling at the time of the accident.

Minutes later, Lock broke into the nearby Liermann home by shattering the rear window and bolting through the glass. James Liermann, 7, who was sitting near the window, was struck with glass and was then assaulted by the intruder.

"He broke through the window, throwing glass everywhere, and he landed on the boy or somehow was on top of the boy," said Vanderaar. "He assaulted him and had both his arms or hands around his neck. His mother and father tried to pull him off of him but were unable to stop Mr. Lock. Mr. Liermann used his baseball bat to get him off his son."

One of the parents then called 911. Lock was pronounced dead at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that night.

The Liermanns' son was released from Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh on Monday morning after he was treated for a severe cut on his neck from the flying glass.

Authorities are still trying to determine a motive for the break-in and attack. Lock did not know the Liermann family before the attack, officials said.

"It's a strange incident," said Vanderaar. "We don't know if the traffic accident caused him to act irrationally and enter the house."

Lock had been described as suicidal at the time of his disappearance, according to a Pennsylvania State Police report.

His boss at Costanzo's called Lock's wife after Lock left work at 2:30 p.m., complaining that he was sick.

Kristen Gervasio, manager of Costanzo's, said they called his wife because he looked sad when he left the bakery. Gervasio said Lock had been on medication for his depression.

"We're used to working with him, and we knew something was wrong," she said. "We couldn't hold him against his will, but we know he's been depressed so we contacted his wife."

Lock had been a production worker on the bread assembly line at the company for 21 years. On the job, he would often speak highly of his three young children and his wife to his co-workers, she said.

"He was a good guy -- an all around good guy," said Gervasio. "He was always on time and was an extremely good worker. This is a shock to all of us."

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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