UPDATE: Police Commissioner Kevin Davis says the homicide detective shot Wednesday evening has passed away.
Det. Sean Suiter was pronounced dead shortly after noon Thursday. An 18-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department and a former U.S. Naval officer, Davis said Suiter was killed after approaching a man in a vacant lot in Harlem Park on Wednesday evening.
The detective was investigating a 2016 murder near the corner of Bennett Place and Fremont Avenue. He approached the man in a vacant lot between two row homes after spotting “suspicious behaviors,” Davis said. A confrontation ensued, and the man pulled out a gun and shot Suiter once in the head.
He leaves behind a wife and five children, the youngest of them 14 years old. He lived in Pennsylvania with his family and was originally from Washington D.C.
Davis said at a presser outside of the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center that Suiter was dressed “like a homicide detective” at the time of the shooting, clad in a suit and tie with his badge showing.
“We will find the person responsible for this ridiculous, absurd, unnecessary loss of life,” he said.
Federal authorities and Baltimore police are now offering a reward of $69,000 — up from $62,000 yesterday — for tips leading to the shooter’s conviction and arrest, though Davis said “it shouldn’t take 69 cents.”
Authorities believe the suspect may be wounded, though police weren’t willing to share additional information, citing the ongoing investigation. Officers have canvassed local emergency rooms and doctor’s offices to see if the shooter may have turned up.
At least one or two people should know his whereabouts, Davis said: “We’re asking this shooter to do the right thing” by turning himself in.
Speaking at the presser, Mayor Pugh said Suiter’s family is “in shock, they’re in pain like any family in this city who has suffered from violence.”
She released a statement shortly afterward about the veteran officer’s murder: “Every life loss to violence, is a great loss for Baltimore City. The level of violence we are witnessing is unacceptable, and we must come together to make our City safer for our residents and the law enforcement officers who risk their lives everyday to protect and serve us. The act of violence against Detective Sean Suiter is a tragedy.”
OLD (as of Thursday at around 9:50 a.m.):
City detectives are searching for a man who Police Commissioner Kevin Davis described Wednesday as a “cold, callous killer,” after he shot an 18-year veteran homicide detective in the head.
The shooting happened around 4:30 p.m. at the corner of Bennett Place and Fremont Avenue in Harlem Park. Flanked by Mayor Catherine Pugh, Council President Jack Young, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and others, Davis laid out the basics: The detective was at the 900 block of Bennett Place following up on a murder investigation; he saw a “man engaged in suspicious behaviors,” according to Davis; after he approached, the man shot him in the head.
The shooter was described as an African-American male wearing a black jacket with a white stripe on it. No other details were available from police.
The detective was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where Physician-in-Chief Thomas Scalea said he was on life support. Davis said he was in “very, very grave condition.”
The detective was with another officer at the time who helped transport him.
“He was just doing his job on behalf of this city,” the police commissioner said emotionally. “That’s what he’s been doing for 18 years.”
He repeated that timeframe: “18 years. This is a dangerous profession. This is a dangerous job. Police officers know that at any given time you can confront someone who wants to do them harm, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.”
Other officials around Davis – as well as FOP President Gene Ryan, who emerged from the crowd after about 10 minutes – echoed a familiar call for tragic times: “thoughts and prayers.”
The detective, who remains unidentified as investigators work, has a wife and two children, Davis said.
Pugh lamented the unending gun violence plaguing Baltimore neighborhoods.
“We cannot have violent criminals running our streets. We cannot have guns continuing to lay on the streets of our city,” she said. “What makes me so sad is that every day we don’t understand the violence among those who are walking our streets. What I do know is that every neighborhood in this city deserves to be safe.”
Mosby promised her office would do its best to bring the shooter to justice. Young called upon potential tipsters to step up.
“Those out there who know who this person is who did this act need to step forward. Money should not be the motivating factor…they should stand up for decency,” the council president said.
The feds have already stepped in to help, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency collectively offering a $62,000 reward for tips leading to the shooter’s arrest and conviction.
Pugh said she would be speaking with Gov. Larry Hogan Wednesday evening about securing additional money to fight violent crime. She also pointed to Young’s new $12 million Youth Fund, designed to ramp up programs serving children and teens in Baltimore to keep them off of street corners.
The intersection where the detective was shot is a known spot for bloodshed. A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot there in August, and a 19-year-old man was killed just around the corner in June. Three men were also found shot to death in a home nearby just last December.