As a young patrolman assigned to the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore, Sean Suiter impressed his supervisor as a conscientious and poised officer who “operated beyond his years.”
“The writing was on the wall early in his career that he was going to ascend the ranks in any path he chose,” said Maj. Martin Bartness, who was Suiter’s sergeant 15 years ago.
On Wednesday, Suiter was back in Harlem Park — now 43 and a homicide detective, dressed in a suit and tie. Police say he was working a 2016 homicide case when a man shot him in the head.
Suiter, an 18-year veteran of the department, died shortly after noon Thursday. He leaves a wife and five children.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called Suiter “a wonderful detective, husband, father and friend.”
“We remain dedicated and committed to finding the person who ended such a beautiful life,” Davis said. “We will find the person responsible for this ridiculous, absurd, unnecessary loss of life.”
Suiter’s colleagues remembered him Thursday as a dependable investigator who was often smiling.
“You will hear his smile come up again and again,” Bartness said. “He had the cheeks, and he was really quick with a smile. Whenever I think about Sean, it’s with a smile on his face. But he wasn’t clownish, and he was not the guy who was always ripping jokes. He was just very good-natured.”
Suiter was born and raised in Washington, Davis said. He served in the Army, officials said, and lived in York County, Pa.
Det. Jonathan Jones was Suiter’s partner in the homicide unit. He was not with him when he was shot.
Jones said Suiter loved the Dallas Cowboys. He was known among detectives as “Face;” on the street, citizens knew him as “Scar.” Both referred to a facial scar.
Jones was with Suiter recently when someone shouted for Suiter. It was a man Suiter recalled chasing around the Western District. The man was now employed, and thanked Suiter for the way he had interacted with him in the past.
“This was Suiter — a great guy, and an even better detective,” Jones said.
Rick Willard, a retired officer, led a drug squad on which Suiter served.
“He was not only a good cop, he was smart and smiled a lot,” he said. “Everyone that worked with him loved him. Even when you were down he would smile with his mischievous smile and make everyone happy and feel at ease.
“He is one of the best officers I ever worked with, and it breaks my heart.”
Capt. Torran Burrus supervised Suiter at two different points during his career, when he was a drug officer and later when he moved onto a district detective unit.
“He had a good keen eye for narcotics activity,” Burrus said.
He said Suiter was known for his good nature. The detective had a “contagious smile” and a penchant for cracking jokes.
Former Baltimore prosecutor Jeremy Eldridge called Suiter “a man with integrity.”
“He was one person you could always count on,” Eldridge said. “Every time I called him, he answered.”
Eldridge said he worked with Suiter on many drug cases.
“He worked tirelessly to put together very well-thought-out cases,” Eldridge said.
Suiter joined the city’s homicide unit in 2015. The first case he closed was the killing of Kendal Fenwick, a young father gunned down in Park Heights. Devante Brim has been charged with first-degree murder in Fenwick’s death. His first trial ended in a mistrial in June. He is scheduled to be tried again next year.
Suiter was listed as the arresting detective for Elias Josael Jimenes Alvarado, the Salvadoran national convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of two women in Northwest Baltimore in 2016. A jury in August found Alvarado guilty in the deaths of Ranarda Williams and Annquinette Dates.
Before joining the homicide unit, Suiter worked in the citywide shootings unit, which investigates non-fatal shootings.
In an email to the department, Davis said Suiter’s “tragic death will forever impact the BPD.”
“Each of you go out there and put your lives on the line every single day,” Davis wrote. “The importance of your sacrifice, and Sean’s, can’t be overstated.”