The picture of Troy Chesley in his City College high school yearbook shows a thin young man with big eyes and a serious expression. Under plans, he wrote "become successful."
Chesley achieved his goal, his colleagues say. He joined the Baltimore police force, where he was commended for saving a woman from a burning house and later hand-picked to join an undercover narcotics unit. He had children, including two boys.
Yesterday, Chesley was shot to death in what police said was a botched robbery outside his girlfriend's home in Northwest Baltimore.
"I just still can't believe it. I'm still in shock that Troy's gone," said Officer Paul McManus, a patrolman in the Western District who was assigned to train Chesley. "To me, Troy was my son."
Police said the mother of two of his children died two years ago. "They have no mom and no dad," McManus said. "What more can these kids put up with? To lose everything."
Chesley signed up for the police academy three years after graduating from high school in 1990 and started his career in the Western District. He quickly moved to tactical teams.
"Troy had learned the craft so well he was self-sufficient," said Lt. Marvin Russell, a commander in the Eastern District who had worked closely with Chesley for the past three years. "He was always one of the calming voices."
Russell said his friend was "not real flamboyant" and spent time meditating, thinking and sometimes, after work, going on long drives.
Another friend, Agent Donny Moses, said, "I'll just say Troy, he was a quiet storm. He was soft-spoken."
Although Chesley didn't seek the limelight, it sometimes found him. In 1999, he shot and wounded a man during a robbery attempt.
He was briefly investigated in 2002 after a videotape surfaced that allegedly showed him hitting another man in the Pimlico infield. McManus defended his friend, saying Chesley was protecting another officer from a man who was trying to grab his gun.
Two years ago, Moses, a department spokesman, picked Chesley to be featured in a short DVD, Keep Talking, the department's response to the homemade Stop Snitching DVD that was distributed on city streets.
"Everyone who was in that video were my old partners," Moses said. "They were the ones that I trust."
Chesley's most recent assignment was to an undercover narcotics unit in the Public Housing Section.
Those he was close to on the force recalled his dedication to his family, his occasional trips to Las Vegas to catch boxing matches, his Tuesday night ritual of playing pool and eating shrimp at a West Baltimore bar and his enthusiasm for pingpong.
At one point, his fellow officers poked fun at his rounding belly just before a pingpong game. So Chesley stripped off his shirt to show off the paunch as he played. "I couldn't stop laughing when he was playing," Russell recalled.