Baltimore man charged with killing DPW co-worker died from apparent suicide in jail cell, officials say

Public works employee charged with fatally shooting his co-worker was found dead in jail.

The Baltimore man charged with fatally shooting a co-worker last week at a city maintenance facility was found dead in a jail cell from an apparent suicide Tuesday, said Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Cipisirono Cole, 47, was found dead about 8:30 p.m. at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center in Baltimore, where he was being held, Shields said.

Like all inmates, Cole had undergone "extensive screening," including a mental health review, police said. He exhibited no signs of suicidal tendancies and had reported no mental health history, Shields said.

Cole was being housed in a single cell in protective custody at his request, Shields said, which the department permits in high-profile cases.

Cole was charged with murder in the death of his co-worker, Darrin Ulysses Johnson Jr. Police said Cole shot and killed Johnson, 34, last week at a Department of Public Works facility in Penn North.

A two-day manhunt for Cole ended Saturday evening when police said he turned himself in.

"This is a tragic situation all around," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday. She said the city is continuing to make sure employees are getting the support they need to cope with the loss of now two coworkers.

"It is a tragedy all the way around we are focusing on healing," and preventing a similar incident from happening again, Rawlings-Blake said.

The shooting happened Thursday in a locker room at Park Terminal, headquarters for the water and sewer system.

Officers were dispatched about 8:30 a.m. and found Johnson wounded. He died at the hospital.

Police suspected Cole from the start. He and Johnson were both laborers in the city's water and wastewater department. Cole was hired in 1991 and earned $46,700 a year, according to city records. Johnson was hired in 2006 and earned $37,000 a year.

The men had been arguing for weeks, investigators learned. Then Cole brought a gun to work on Thursday, police said.

The locker room is on the first floor, where maintenance workers change into uniforms. Analysts, engineers and contractors work in offices upstairs. About 100 people work at the facility.

After the shooting, police escorted the other employees to the second floor where they sheltered in place. Cole's access card was soon shut off.

The alleged killing stunned the department. The facility remained open, but workers were allowed to go home. All were offered grief counseling.

In addition to murder, Cole also faced charges of assault and using a firearm in a violent crime.

Baltimore Sun staff reporters Colin Campbell and Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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