Baltimore County school resource officer fatally shoots himself at Essex high school

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Photo by Wallstreethotrod, via Wikimedia Commons

A 21-year veteran Baltimore County police officer died today after shooting himself in his office at Eastern Technical High School in Essex, police said late Monday afternoon.

The department identified him as Officer J. Comegna—spokeswoman Det. Jennifer Peach said at a press conference they don’t give out first names of officers. Interim Superintendent Verletta White identified his first name as Joseph in a tweet expressing her condolences.

Comegna was a school resource officer at Eastern Tech for the last four years, said Peach. He spent 12 years in all as a school resource officer in the county.

Other details on his service record were unavailable, Peach told a reporter. She said Comegna leaves behind a family, but did not elaborate.

The department received a call for service at around 12:20 p.m., after faculty heard a sound coming from Comegna’s office in the basement of the building and went to investigate. Inside, they found Comegna suffering from a gunshot wound. Peach said the department would only identify the injury spot as his “upper body.”

Comegna was transported to MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Rosedale, where he was pronounced deceased.

“We don’t believe that anyone else witnessed this event,” Peach said. Surveillance footage from the hallway indicated Comegna was the only person who entered or was present in the office at the time, and only one gun was found at the scene. He was wearing his body camera, but there are no departmental protocols that called for him to turn it on at the time, and police don’t believe he activated it, she said.

Asked if they believe he used his service weapon, Peach affirmed.

The building was temporarily placed on lockdown after the gunshot rang out, but school ended and students were dismissed at a normal time. The downstairs area of the school was kept locked down through the afternoon.

There’s no known motive for why he shot himself, Peach said. Moving forward, police will investigate any potential contributing circumstances in his life.

As for the department’s other personnel, she said they’ll be reaching out to all other school resource officers to ensure they have any needed “crisis resources.”

“We do have services that are always available to every officer during any crisis that they experience on the job, or any personal crisis that they experience,” she said.

Administrators expect to re-open for school as normal tomorrow, with crisis and trauma counselors on-scene to talk with affected faculty and students.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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