BALTIMORE — A Baltimore homicide detective died Thursday less than 24 hours after he was shot in the head while working in a neighborhood of vacant lots and boarded-up row houses.
At a news conference outside a hospital, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told reporters that 43-year-old Sean Suiter, an 18-year veteran of the department, was pronounced dead shortly after noon. He had been on full life support at a hospital since getting shot once in the head by a gunman late Wednesday afternoon.
Suiter was shot by a man he approached in a vacant lot in a particularly troubled area of West Baltimore, according to Davis. He and a partner, both dressed in suits as is standard for Baltimore detectives, were investigating a 2016 homicide that took place in the area. Davis said Suiter approached the man because he was “acting suspiciously.”
“The shooter knows what he did and he knows who he did it to: A Baltimore police detective,” the commissioner said.
Rewards totaling $169,000 by early Thursday evening have been offered for information catching the shooter, but Davis said “it shouldn’t take 69 cents” for anyone to come forward to help “bring this heartless, ruthless, soulless killer to justice.”
Davis said the shooter might have been wounded in the confrontation and authorities were canvassing doctor’s offices and hospitals. He said detectives are following various leads and numerous cadets are out knocking on doors seeking witnesses. Blocks remain cordoned off in the blighted West Baltimore area where Suiter was shot.
It’s been roughly a decade since a Baltimore officer was killed in a shooting. Officer Troy Chesley Sr., a 13-year veteran who worked in the unit assigned to patrol public housing, was killed in West Baltimore in January 2007 as he had just gotten off work.
Suiter, a father of five, was remembered by colleagues as a man who always brought a blend of steadiness and down-home friendliness to the job. Major Martin Bartness of the department’s Strategic Services Bureau tweeted that he was “quick with a smile & big of heart.”
State flags were ordered flown at half-staff to honor Suiter.
Mayor Catherine Pugh decried unrelenting violence in Baltimore, describing it as “out of control.”
Many residents agree. Outside the hospital where Suiter died, lifelong Baltimore resident Erika Gaines said she was praying for the slain detective’s relatives and other families devastated by gun violence.
“Violence is running rampant these days. I don’t know, we all have to really start thinking outside the box about how we can stop things from getting worse,” she said.
In 2015, Baltimore saw 344 killings — which broke a 40-year record for homicides. Homicides are now threatening to set new records: There have been over 300 homicides in the city of roughly 620,000 people so far this year.
Associated Press writer Kasey Jones contributed to this story.
David McFadden on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dmcfadd