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Baltimore Police identify officer who fatally shot gunman at eastside barbershop

Baltimore Police on Tuesday identified the off-duty sergeant who fatally shot a gunman who killed the owner of an eastside barbershop earlier this month.

Police said Sgt. David Burch was getting a haircut at Bladi Style barbershop at 5711 O’Donnell St. when 38-year-old Carlos David Ortega walked into the shop and killed Rafael Blady Jeffers, the owner of the barbershop.

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“The suspect discharged first over the sergeant’s shoulder,” said police spokesman detective Donny Moses. Ortega then told Burch to get out of the barber chair and walked toward Jeffers again with his gun still in his hand, police said. Burch then returned fire, killing Ortega.

Police said Burch discharged his Glock 27 six times. The gun is not Burch’s regular service weapon but one that he is certified by the department to carry off-duty, Moses said.

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After firing upon Ortega, police said Burch then told a barbershop employee to call 911. Medics arrived and took Jeffers and Ortega to Johns Hopkins Hospital where Jeffers and Ortega were both pronounced dead less than an hour later.

Two civilian witnesses were taken from the crime scene to police headquarters where they were interviewed by homicide detectives.

Police said previously that Ortega was responsible for two other shootings that day.

About an hour earlier, police said Ortega injured a man in the 5000 block of East Oliver St. in the Armistead Gardens neighborhood, about two miles away from the barbershop. Police believe that shooting followed an argument.

Police also said Ortega shot and killed 44-year-old Javier Villegas Cotto, another barber, in the 4600 block of Eastern Ave., near Greektown, before he walked into the O’Donnell Street barbershop.

Colleagues of Cotto had recalled him as “a legend” in the barbershop community. A woman who identified herself as Jeffers’ wife declined to talk to The Baltimore Sun.

Jeffers and Cottos’s deaths have prompted other city barbers to join together and discuss safety measures, and ways to help the victims’ families.

Police still have not identified a motive linking the three shootings. Moses said the attacks were not random but did not provide addition details Tuesday.

Because Burch was off-duty at the time of the shooting he was not wearing a body camera. Police said Burch has been with the department seven years.

The Special Investigation Response Team (S.I.R.T.) and the Independent Investigations Division of the Office of Attorney General continue to investigate.

The joint investigation is the result of Maryland General Assembly legislation passed earlier this year that requires the Attorney General’s Office to investigate all police-involved fatalities in the state. But Baltimore, unlike other jurisdictions is required by an ongoing federal consent degree to conduct its own investigations of such incidents.

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