Daryl Anthony Birch likely faced years behind bars for shooting a Kmart manager Tuesday during an argument with his estranged girlfriend.

But Birch meted out his own punishment yesterday morning when he killed himself in his ex-girlfriend's Olney home as SWAT officers entered to arrest him.

Birch, 30, shot himself in the head with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun in an upstairs bedroom of the rowhouse on Albanus Street near Front, said Lt. Mark Burgmann of Northeast Detectives.

SWAT team members heard a gunshot shortly after they entered the home at 7:30 a.m., Burgmann said.

"We're glad that nobody else innocent got hurt, civilians or police," Burgmann said. "Obviously, it would have been better if he would have just peacefully surrendered."

Authorities had sought Birch since Tuesday morning when, at about 4:30 a.m., he had entered the Kmart on Frankford Avenue near Academy Road, in Torresdale, where his ex-girlfriend works.

The two, who have three children, began arguing, and a security guard escorted Birch out of the store.

But Birch did not go quietly. He threatened to return and shoot the guard. Five hours later, he returned with a gun, police said. Birch, who worked as a security guard for several companies, was legally permitted to carry a weapon, Burgmann said.

Birch then threatened his ex-girlfriend, who sought refuge in a store office, police said. A 35-year-old manager confronted Birch, and Birch responded by blasting him several times.

The manager, who suffered gunshot wounds to the arm and chest and a graze wound to the head, remained in stable condition at Frankford Hospital-Torresdale yesterday.

Birch had a stormy history with both his ex-girlfriend and an ex-wife, court records show.

The ex-girlfriend had a protection order against Birch, and Birch was set to stand trial next month on stalking and related charges stemming from a July incident in which he allegedly went to his ex-wife's West Philly home and threatened her. *