Baltimore Police Commisioner Kevin Davis says that detective Sean Suiter has died after yesterday's shooting.
A veteran Baltimore detective tasked with solving murders became the city’s latest homicide victim Thursday, a day after he was shot in the head while investigating a killing in West Baltimore.
Det. Sean Suiter, 43, died surrounded by his wife, five children and fellow officers at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center as the manhunt continued for his killer. By nightfall, authorities were offering rewards totaling nearly $170,000 for information leading to his shooter’s capture.
The 18-year veteran, who joined the police homicide unit two years ago to help combat the city’s historic surge in killings, is the 309th homicide victim in Baltimore this year. It’s the third straight year in which the city has suffered more than 300 killings, a level that had not been seen since the 1990s.
“We will find the person responsible for this ridiculous, absurd, unnecessary loss of life,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. He implored citizens to help police “bring this heartless, ruthless, soulless killer to justice.”
Suiter’s death stunned the department, in which he was well known and well liked. Doctors at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center found themselves trying to save the life of an officer they knew personally.
“He was well respected,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said, “and he will be very sorely missed by everyone.”
Suiter’s extended family arrived Thursday, some traveling from as far as Florida. Pugh spoke of his wife.
“Pray for her, pray for their children — and pray for our city,” she urged during a news conference outside the hospital.
Police say Suiter was shot Wednesday afternoon in a notoriously violent section of the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. An entire city block remained cordoned off Thursday morning as police scoured the area and police academy cadets knocked on doors in search of information.
Pugh reiterated Thursday that crime in the city was “out of control.”
Police say Suiter was in the neighborhood doing “followup” on a triple killing from last year when he saw a man acting suspiciously. Suiter, wearing a suit and tie like all homicide detectives, attempted to speak to the man and was shot.
A police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly, said Suiter was trying to find a witness for the case when he and another detective saw the suspicious activity in a vacant lot in the middle of the 900 block of Bennett Place.
The two detectives split up, apparently to try to cover different exits of the block, the source said. Then Suiter was shot.
Though the majority of Baltimore police officers now wear body cameras, homicide detectives do not.
Davis said police had found evidence that suggested the suspect was injured, but declined to elaborate. He said police were searching emergency rooms and doctors’ offices for “anyone with an unexplained injury.”
The 2015 death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody, and the unrest and rioting that followed, touched off a surge in city violence that continues today. View the series of events in this interactive timeline.
Nov 16, 2017 at 2:10 PM
Federal agencies and Metro Crime Stoppers offered $69,000 for information leading to an arrest. Gov. Larry Hogan pledged another $100,000 in state money to help.
Hogan said the “individual responsible for this heinous crime will be found, charged, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” He ordered the Maryland state flag lowered to half-staff.
Authorities asked anyone with information to contact the Baltimore FBI office at 1-800-CALL-FBI, Baltimore police detectives at 410-396-2100, or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCK-UP. Tips can also be texted to Baltimore police via 443-902-4824.
Suiter’s shooting was the second of a law enforcement officer in West Baltimore this month. Sgt. Tony Anthony Mason Jr., 40, a District of Columbia police officer who lived in Baltimore, was shot to death in the 2800 block of Elgin Avenue on Nov. 4. He was off duty at the time.
The last Baltimore police officer to die in the line of duty was Officer Craig Chandler, who succumbed in January 2015 from injuries sustained two months earlier. He was a passenger in a cruiser pursuing a moped when it crashed into a utility pole.
Officer William Torbit was shot to death in 2011 in a friendly-fire incident while trying to break up a crowd outside a nightclub.
The last city officer fatally shot by a suspect in the line of duty was Officer Troy Chesley in 2007. Brandon Grimes, accused of shooting Chesley during an attempted robbery, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Chesley’s son, Trayvon, was shot to death in Baltimore this year.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said she knew Suiter from her work as a trial prosecutor.
“I know firsthand his love and passion for serving the citizens of Baltimore and fighting crime,” she said in a statement. “We have lost a true gem today.”
Mosby called the shooting an “act of cowardice.” She said she wanted Suiter’s family to know it would not go unpunished.
“I want them to rest assured that we will do our part to ensure that the perpetrator of this offense is brought to justice,” she said.
For hours after Suiter was shot Wednesday night, police maintained a wide perimeter around the 900 block of Bennett Place while officers checked homes for the shooter.
On Thursday morning, police cadets in khaki pants and dark jackets fanned out across the neighborhood, knocking on doors to ask neighbors if they knew anything about the shooting or the shooter. They handed out fliers to residents who opened the door.
Police officers searched Ashley Smith’s home on Bennett Place, checking the windows in the back and her basement. Like others in Harlem Park, Smith, 22, said she was unable to leave her home Wednesday night. After she and her 15-month-old son left to get something to eat Thursday morning, she said, she was having difficulty returning.
Khalil Halsey, 26, was sitting in a house on Edmondson Avenue Wednesday night when he heard sirens and cars rushing past. He said he knew something was different.
“They just kept coming and coming,” Halsey said.
He wondered why so many officers remained at the scene Thursday.
“What is it they are trying to find?” he asked. “Maybe they are just trying to make their presence known.”
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