Baltimore police officer dead, cops hunt killer

A Baltimore homicide detective was pronounced dead Thursday as cops continued a dragnet for his “cold, callous killer.”

The slain officer, identified as homicide Detective Sean Suiter, was an 18-year veteran of the Baltimore police force, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a news conference. He was also a former naval officer.

The detective and his partner were in the area Wednesday investigating a 2016 murder when they observed a man engaging in what they believed to be "suspicious behavior," Davis said.

Dressed in a full suit and tie with his badge displayed, Suiter, 43, approached the suspect and a confrontation occurred.

Police officers respond to Bennett Place and N. Fremont Avenue after a call went out that an officer is shot Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Baltimore, M.D.  Baltimore police said in a tweet that one of their officers was shot Wednesday evening. The department did not immediately disclose the officer's name or any other details. (Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Police officers respond to Bennett Place and N. Fremont Avenue after a call went out that an officer was shot Wednesday in Baltimore, M.D.  (Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The detective was shot once in the head and his partner, who was nearby, called for police and medics on the radio, Davis said. The shooting happened in a troubled area of Baltimore that is grappling with high crime rates.

Police said Suiter was brought to the shock trauma center where doctors did what they could to save him.

Davis said the detective had a wife and five children. Federal agencies are offering a $69,000 reward for information leading to the gunman’s arrest but Davis said "it shouldn't take 69 cents," for people to provide information.

He also added that there is evidence to suggest that the suspect may have been injured during the incident and likely encountered individuals as he made his escape. Davis implored anyone with information "to do some soul searching and pick up the phone and give us a call."

"We remain dedicated and committed to finding the person who ended such a beautiful life, such a wonderful detective, husband, father and friend," Davis said. "We will find the person responsible for this ridiculous, absurd, unnecessary loss of life."

"The shooter knows what he did and he knows who he did it to - a Baltimore police detective," Davis said. He urged the suspect to "turn yourself in."

Davis said the officer was “just doing his job” when he was ambushed and vowed to have the shooter captured.

"This is a dangerous profession. This is a dangerous job. Police officers know that at any given time they could confront someone who wants to do them harm, and that's exactly what happened tonight," Davis said. “With this community, we’re going to identify him, we’re going to arrest him, and we’re going to ensure justice is done.”

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh spoke to the press following the police commissioner. She spoke of how respected Suiter was in the Baltimore community and that he will be "very sorely missed." She asked for prayers for his wife, children and the city.

"I also ask this city to pray for our police officers, because I said this earlier today, that when they leave their homes, the family's hearts go out the door with them," Pugh said.

The FBI in Baltimore also tweeted their condolences for Suiter's family and the Balitmore police department.

Police, meantime, have cordoned off streets in the West Baltimore area and a tactical unit combed alleyways as they searched for a gunman. Numerous cruisers responded and a police helicopter buzzed overhead, illuminating streets below with a searchlight. 

The incident took place in an abandoned lot in between two row houses, police said. The area has been the scene of numerous shootings over the years.

Police officers respond to Bennett Place and N. Fremont Avenue after a call went out that an officer is shot Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Baltimore, M.D.  Baltimore police said in a tweet that one of their officers was shot Wednesday evening. The department did not immediately disclose the officer's name or any other details. (Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Baltimore police said in a tweet that one of their officers was shot Wednesday evening.  (Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Wednesday's shooting comes amid a particularly violent period in Baltimore: So far this year, the city of less than 620,000 inhabitants has seen more than 300 homicides. Pugh called for an end to the gun violence at an earlier news conference, saying “enough is enough.”

"We are praying for peace in our streets. And I can say to you all again and again: Enough is enough. Crime has to come to an end in this city. This kind of violence cannot be tolerated," she said.

Anyone with a tip can call the department at 410-396-2100 or text 443-902-4824.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.