Officer Killed By Friendly Fire In Nightclub Shooting

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It appears a Baltimore City police officer was shot by a fellow officer’s weapon.  The shooting also left another man dead.

Derek Valcourt is following this complex investigation.

It’s official: only police guns were fired that night—a total of 41 shots in all.

Officer William Torbit, 33, was shot and killed by his fellow officers who responded to his calls for help to break up a brawl outside of the Select Lounge Nightclub on Paca Street around 1:15 a.m. Sunday.  Police say officers fired a total of 41 shots, killing two people and wounding four others.

“I want to express my most sincere and deepest condolences,” said Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld.

Bealefeld didn’t answer any questions from the media Monday night and only made a brief statement.  In it, he asked for privacy for Torbit’s family, saying he expects the investigation will take a full three weeks.

“We owe it to all the victims to be thorough and complete and to only release confirmed facts,” Bealefeld said.

Also killed was 22-year-old Sean Gamble, a father, fiance and member of the Baltimore Saints semi-professional football team who graduated from Woodlawn High School in 2005 and sang for the school choir.

“Whether he was competing on the football field or whether he was singing and even the care that he displayed for his fellow students, he always had a lot of heart,” said Baltimore County music teacher Heather Caulton.

“He was extremely talented.  He had a lot going for him,” said Gamble’s friend Robert Mason.

Gamble’s longtime friends say he’d never had trouble with the law before and question the actions of the police who shot him.

“I want to get to the bottom of this because I just feel that this should not have happened,” Mason said.

Police have identified four other officers involved in the shooting: Harry Dodge, Harry Pawley, Toyia Williams and Latora Craig.

Friends and family held a massive candelight vigil for Sean Gamble at 7 p.m. Monday at Woodlawn High School.

More from Derek Valcourt
  • D. Bos.

    COVER UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • tyu

      I guess if couldn’t have been a few people in the crowd that provoked the situations. It just always has to be the cops that are wrong? The last I checked there was no shortage of violent CITIZENS in Baltimore City.

      • Petunia Fields

        Right on, we just need to make sure that these same violent CITIZENS arent allowed to become violent OFFICERS.

      • jj

        I agree. People always criticize others about things that they could never do. I know there may be bad apples, like in every walk of life, but it takes a special kind of person to put their life on the line for people that they don’t know (seemingly unappreciative people at that)

  • Tim

    What do you expect, its Baltimore hopeless city!

    • jj

      I’m sure you are just a beacon of hope yourself. Sitting on here chastizing the city, what are you doing to help?

  • windwalker

    Cover up I wonder also. How is is that when that police officer was shot he was shot in the leg and head but what about the upper part area of his body. I’m sure with him working at that club as security he had his vest on and his badge but I’m wondering was his badge viewable in plain site. Most clubs you can tell a police officer(s) as to a club go’er. Also for those other officers who arrived on to the seen did any one stop to be careful due too there could be or are fellow officer(s) who are working the club scene for extra money. All should know no matter what district who and where their fellow brothers at arms are working so when stuff like this happens that does not happen again. It’s just weird he was shot in the leg and head with multiple hits.

    • Jimmay

      “Also for those other officers who arrived on to the seen did any one stop to be careful due too there could be or are fellow officer(s) who are working the club scene for extra money.”- Cause someone dropped a signal 13 and it was a huge brawl…….

      • windwalker

        Even with a signal 13 for him to be shot up like that is odd. Unless he just look like and every day person a normal street clothing. It still goes to show no matter where Baltimore folks go (especially black males) there’s always going to be violence. I’m sure someone knows who that person is and isn’t going to say a word with that no snitching attitude. That is why the things go on like they do.

  • tb

    this is a shame, I had to comment because I know people, who were there, and friends of the victim. The Baltimore City police dept really needs to be investigated and reprimanded, why on earth would police officers fire into a crowd of unarmed civilians. There reckless actions killed one of their own men, and took away an innocent, young, son, brother, friend and man. I really hope this is investigated. We, the residents need to take action against this senseless violence happening in our communities, its killing our sons and daughters.

    • DD

      ….or maybe the people that were hurt / killed in the incident gave the police a VALID reason to shoot. Maybe the pollice should be commended for their actions.

      • help me

        Six people shot, two dead and not one civilian gun was used and you think the police need to be commended?

        You truly are an effin’ moron. Please don’t reproduce.

      • Giggles

        What VALID reason could there possibly be for firing into a crowd, other than having a blatant disregard for human life? I’m sure the situation was out of control upon arrival, but there are other ways to diffuse the crowd. It sounds to me like our officers need to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate procedures and training. And yes, a lot of things are easier said than done, but in the long run, it could prevent something like this from happening again. There is no excuse or explanation for the way this situation was handled and to COMMEND these officers on their behavior is just letting them know that just because they have a badge, gun, and uniform, they are above the law and can do whatever they want. We are all human and NO ONE is above the law.

  • ac

    when u ar undercover u make it know that ur undercover rit? i just dont c how or why the police statred shooting in the first place. to me it sound like the cops was shooting at each other and the shot a innocent bystander. i think its crazy cuz a simple fight turn into the police shooting a innocent person and another cop…smh

    • hjk

      Maybe you should consider the fact that it is completely possible that the plainclothes officer attempted to intevene when the fight broke out and people within the crowd turned on him and could have tried to take his gun. At that point, I would assume the plain clothes officer would defend himself agains those who are trying to disarm him (which i think is completely REASONABLE). That would account for the people that were injured / killed. I am not saying that is what happened, but it is possible. You can’t automatically blame the police with out knowing everything. They are thrown into a chaotic situation and are expected to react in fractions of a second. Its not fair to monday moring quarterback them from the comfort of your computer.

      • help me

        Nothing released so far could possibly explain the police’s actions.


  • jj

    Actually the identification of a UC is on a need to know basis. Until the details of the investigation are release please have some respect for the fallen officer, and stop speculating and fabricating stories

  • Chris Yastrzemsky

    I’ll reserve final judgement for when there are more details but there are quite a few details that don’t seem in line with proper police procedure like firing on a crowd of people!

  • silent&hurt

    I knew this officer and he was a good in or out the uniform. He always was in plain clothes and his badge was always visable. Although there were two inocent lives lost cause of people with no class manners just no respect at all. You shouldnt question if the officer torbit was right and wrong.He didnt question to protect and serve this city. This matter shouldnt be over looked. The officers should have reconize OFFICER TORBIT they worked with him everyday. WiLLIAM H. TORBIT JR. You will truly be missed. Having you protect our reckless community was a blessing. There are not to many more officers out there like you. My prayers go out to the torbit family.

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  • Confused

    Officer Torbit was one of Baltimore’s best officers out there, it’s said he had to go that way. The community he served SO WELL will be holding a candle light visual 1/11/11 at 5pm in his honor. Everyone who knew him on or off duty heart’s are heavy and prayers go out to his family, he was a GREAT/FAIR person who was committed to making this city better. He will truely be missed but never forgotten.

  • michael

    Rest in peice my friend and fellow brother in blue !!!!

  • old school

    My condolences to all the families.. There must be some procedural changes.. friendly fire will always be a danger… but I am curious as to what prompted the police to act so aggressively, so quickly. Perhaps the law should be amended to include a required uniformed police presence at venues that fall within certain criteria.

  • Doug

    Friendly fire ??
    Or drunken idiots with firearms

    • help me

      Ummm. It’s Friendly fire. Bealefield SAID SO.

      • Trd

        Doug, you’re an idiot. You probably got popped on the corner last week selling crack and just hate the cops now. Its a wonder you can type.

      • baltimorelady617

        Trd, I can’t sstop laughing at your comment.



  • help me

    I know there are officers here. Now you know why there is distrust of the police.

    41 shots by 5 officers. No civilian weapons. Six people shot and two dead.

    Now we are hearing Torbit was on the ground when he was shot.

    Are you kidding me?

    This is just sick and pathetic. Charges need to filed, The FBI needs to take over to ensure justice because the public knows the officers will try to lie their way out of this.

    I am disgusted at the police and this happens three months after one of your own was indicted for FIRST DEGREE MURDER on a defenseless war veteran.

    Another sad day in the history of the BPD.

    My heart goes out to Torbit and Gamble’s family.

    • dan

      If you recall “Help me”, that officer that was charged with 1st Degree Murder was willingly charged by his own department, not the FBI. Police within the department and ouside agreed with that decision. If you also recall, the news posted at one point that the police department wanted to charge before the states attornys officer would. The police will investigate and discipline when needed. That guy was definitely in the wrong and deserved to be charged but that doesn’t mean that his is the same type of situation. Its possible it could but no one knows yet.. Furthermore, just because that officer from the past was charged with murder (rightfully I might add) that does not mean ALL Baltimore City Police or police country wide are all bad. You just hate police and refuse to believe anything other than they are wrong no matter what they do.

      • B-Dog

        No, I don’t hate police. I just distrust some of them. In fact I respect many of the fine outstanding officers out there.

        My problem is the dirty corrupt police and the ones that cover up for them. If a good officer looks the other way then no matter how decorated they are then they are just another POS to me. Courage and honor should be the two highest qualities an officer have. Once they lose either then they are no better than a common street thug.

        The reason I want the FBI involved is because it is just too tempting for good officers to look the other way or tell a little white lie to save another officers career.

        This is a public relations disaster and the police should not be investigate themselves in this instance.

        I want the truth. No matter how ugly it is. The police have a habit of NOT disciplining their own. That’s why the public does not trust the police.

        Tell me, why did Torbit not have a chance to identify himself? Why was Torbit not told to put down his weapon before he was shot? Why did Torbit shoot an unarmed man? Was that his only resort? Why was Torbit carried off IMMEDIATELY and Gamble allowed to sit for thirty minutes before he was helped? How do you explain four innocent bystanders getting shot? What happened to NOT shooting when civilians are around?

        There sounds like a dozen procedural mistakes made by these officers. All of which resulted in the death to two people.


        BPD should be ashamed of themselves.

  • shocked

    This is a sad and misfortunate event adn no one should point fingers or judge half of you on here have no idea what it would be like to be in that situation and have to try and figure out in 10 seconds if you need to protect yourself or get shot. Many of you couldnt even put your self in that situation. I think that if you dont know all the details that you should not be so quick to judge. the city is OUT of control and they are trying to keep it under control and do all the hard worked for the poeple such as the mayor and half the city which is entirely ungrateful. This situation wouldnt haev even happened had the people in club not acted like a bunch of teenagers and fought. THEY are the ones who caused this. As far as everyone knowing protocol of undercover police- how may of you all that are judging went to the police academy or have the proper training? we should all pray that these officers are able to deal with this in a healthy way- If it was someone in your family that this happened to would you be this quick to judge?

    • Petunia Fields

      What “situation” are you referring too? The only people shooting are the only people had guns…the police officers. Perhaps they mistook someones hairbrish for a saw offer shotgun? The rest of us have to wait until were either mutilated or bleeding to death before we are allowed to even consider protecting ourselves. Police can kill people for waiving a popsicle around.

      • swd8

        um the situation where people think that its the cops fault and they always have people thinking they are the problems. if everyone hadnt acted like a bunch of thugs than everyone would still be alive the cops wouldnt haev even of had to come had they all behaved themselves. This is what happens they dont behave and then when the cops come they are the bad people well ya know what half those people there wouldnt allow the officers to get to the car to get the cop in so they are just at fault in my opinion if they were just innocent citizens they wouldve helped instead of kicking and beating a cop!!!

    • ert

      100% true. God bless our police and military.

  • crazyness?

    this is ridiculous. all four of those inept cops should be publicly shot

    • ert

      I guess you have all the facts to the story? perhaps you could do a better job?…maybe you should pick up a gun and try being a police officer. I can’t imagine what the go through…..and obviously you can’t either.

  • Officer Killed By Friendly… « 411clubs

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  • pooda

    love u cuzo

  • Lisa Schiff

    I am I friend of Sean’s and Sean would have NEVER done anything like that. ALL of the bullets came from police and they should be ashamed of themselves. The mayor just wants to make the story about the officer that got killed but what about Sean and his family, someone who never been in trouble before, had a yound son and ton be married. I SICK of Baltimore cops. Sean was a caring friend, wonderful father and great football player. We will always love you Sean “Loz” Gamble!!!!!

  • tonya

    all of you who think this is ok because we have alot of crime here are dummies!! and i hope next time it is you .. this is crazy that before police find out whats going on they walk into a crowd and just go to shooting all of us who live here should be scared!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • shocked

      If everyone hadnt been acting like a bunch of fools and been able to behave themselves the police wouldnt even have had to show up in the first place. cant people just go out and act like civilized humnan beings and not animals? there is ALOT that poeple do not know and everyone is very quick to judge but how many of you have law enfocemnt training? what would you do if you had 2 seconds to decide if you were not going to be bale to go home? It is unfortunate but the people at the club caused this no if ands or buts- they fought ,police came. If they hadnt come you all would be up in arms because they didnt show.

      • John

        You have Law enforcement training for situations like this its called emotion regulation in which train you to reduce impulsive response in these types of settings. Riot Control tactics should have been imploded such as excessive pepper spray, night stick or taser, however none of these tactics were used…
        The handgun was designed as the last resort not the first and only, now as a result of poor decision making a fellow officer lost his life along with an innocent man..

    • ert

      You generaliize and say “police” So even if it turns out that the police were in fact wrong in this situation you’re going to blame ALL POLICE? That is just stupid. A 22 year old kid shot a congresswoman….does that mean all white 22year old kids are potential assasins? An accountant abuses his wife…..are all accountants wife beaters? An african american shoots another african american in the city….does that mean all african americans are violent? I middle eastern woman carries a suicide bomb into a crowded marker…are all middle eastern women / muslims terroriests? Do you see my point? Even if the police were wrong (which nobody knows for sure yet) does that really mean all police are now bad.

  • bill hough


  • christine walker

    what was they thinkijg about.

  • Jason Woodson

    Friendly Fire? Do anyone with any type of logic, see what happen here? A plain clothes officer was shot and killed by fellow officers from multiple hits, there was no other weapons fired besides government issued weapons! Those officers literately shot and killed that man based on stereotypical profiling. Since Officer Torbit was of a darker skin complexion, he posed as a threat so they shot him in the leg to disable him then in the head to execute him followed by multiple body shots…
    Then reckless shooting into a crowd of unarmed civilians resulting in 4 young ladies and a fatal shot to an innocent male..

    What ever happen to Stop Right There! Freeze! Put Your Hands Up
    — Signed An Ignorant Uneducated Individual with a Permit to Fire A Weapon

    • I hate dumb people

      This is the most stupid comment on this thread! LOL Seriously, you know what multiple officers were thinking at the time of the fight. You know why they shot him. Shoot, you even know there tactic is disabling him so that they could finish him off! You’re amazing… amazing idiot that is! You sure do know a lot….since you know so much from your keyboard maybe you could tell us where Osama is?!

      You make the case that Torbit was shot because he was of “darker skin complexion…….even though officer that were there were likely of “darker skin complextion” themselves. I guess the police department brainwashed them into shooting every black citizen they see even though they may be black themselves.

      Congratulations, you’re an idiot!.

      • Jason Woodson

        What rationale can you use to justify shooting and killing a man while he is lying on his back already? … I will wait….

        Just cause the other officers may have been of a darker skin complexion does not make them exempt from a stereotypical profiling practice, its a mindset not a race.

        41 shots by 5 officers. No civilian weapons. Six people shot and two dead.
        Now we are hearing Officer Torbit was on the ground when he was shot.
        Friendly Fire?

        PS> Educate yourself Osama been in the same place he was for the last 10 years, if we wanted to find him we would have just as we did with finding Saddam Hussein in a spider hole in a desert.

      • I hate dumb people

        LOL…you’re a nut! I am glad you know where Osama is. Now you should call Obama and let him know. He would be happy to hear from you. I bet you think 9/11 was a government conspiracy too!

        As for a answer to your questions….see postings by hjk ert. Seem to make sense.

      • i hate dumb people

        Better yet….look at ert’s response to B-dog below.

  • B-Dog


    Did the thug police who shot him tell him to, “stop and put your weapon down” before they executed him?

    • ert

      Unfortunately B-dog, no one here can answer that. One can only assume. Just as you assume the police “executed” Officer Torbit, I would assume that police wouildn’t just fire into a crowd without any reason whatsoever. Now before you jump on that statement, I’m not saying there isn’t major procedural issues in this incident or that it isn’t without its points that need to be questioned, but I don’t believe these officers arrived with the sole intent of killing innocent people. Something happened that ignited this horrible event.

      You asked why police didn’t allow Torbit to identify himself. Well, just humor me for a second. An above post had a theory about the plain clothes officer shooting to protect himself. Let’s just assume that is what happened. What if other officers arrived just in time to see Torbit firing into the crowd not knowing that he is an officer protecting himself. They just just see a man with a gun shooting people. Should they really let him continue shooting people while they yell for him to drop his gun or shoot him on the spot to save the lives of people in the crowd? Remember, they don’t know he is a cop. Its a tough decision.

      As said before, at the moment with the little known information, I tend to believe that this is what may have happened. It accounts for the injured and killed and still doesn’t mean that the police were simply “executing” citizens. There are some serious procedural problems no doubt but no blatant criminal action on part of the police. that doesn’t mean they don’t share some responsibility in the incident for sure but they don’t deserve 100% of the blame.

      Just a thought for you to consider B-Dog before you throw all police under the bus.

      My heart goes out to all that were killed and injured, the families of those killed and injured AND the police department as a whole.

      • Owings Mills

        You have the most intelligent theory of all. I have the same theory as you. I think Torbit caused his own death by shooting into the crowd. Sean Gamble was beating Torbit up pretty good (by the way, good kids don’t beat up police officers). Torbit was laying on the ground, pulled his gun out, and started spraying the crowd with bullets killing Sean Gamble (everyone seems to forget it was Torbit that killed Gamble). Nobody will ever know why he pulled his gun. The uniformed officers came on scene, saw Torbit laying on the ground in a hoodie looking like a street thug who just got beat up spraying the crowd with bullets. They reacted and shot him. It was a tragic mistake. Nothing more. Nothing less. It will be interesting to see how many bullets came out of Torbit’s gun when the investigation is complete.

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