By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A call to resign. The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has asked Bishop Heather Cook to step down from her position. Cook faces a slew of charges following the hit and run crash that killed cyclist and Baltimore man Tom Palermo.

Rick Ritter spoke with the Episcopal diocese and has the latest.

Officials with the diocese sent the letter to Cook Tuesday. They say this wasn’t hard or simple; it’s just a decision that needed to be made—one that calls for Bishop Cook’s resignation immediately.

Just weeks after posting $2.5 million bond, Bishop Heather Cook is out of jail and could soon be out of a job. A letter released by the Episcopal Diocese Wednesday asks Cook to resign, saying, “You are no longer able to function effectively in the position of Bishop Suffragan” and continuing, “We respectfully call for your immediate resignation.”

Cook faces manslaughter and DUI charges after a hit and run crash that shattered the entire cycling community.

“You don’t have to know him to appreciate that could have been your friend, anyone,” said cyclist Nima Shahidi. “Your father.”

Taking the life of a loving father of two, 41-year-old Tom Palermo. Just days after Christmas, Palermo was hit while riding his bike along Roland Avenue. Prosecutors say Cook was not only drunk but was texting as well.

“We love him so much and we’re just going to love him as much as we can,” said Palermo’s brother-in-law, Jeff Hutling.

On the phone with WJZ Wednesday, the Episcopal Diocese stands firm by their decision.

“We believe it’s in the best interest for the diocese of Maryland and everyone involved that she takes this opportunity,” said Sharon Tillman.

Saying Cook lacks leadership as the diocese works to repair what’s been tarnished with the community.

“I believe we have work to do to regain trust and goodwill and we’re doing everything possible to do that,” Tillman said.

Cook’s attorney says they discussed the letter but aren’t commenting right now. He says Cook remains at an inpatient treatment facility and is due back in court on Feb. 6.

If convicted of all charges, Cook could face more than 20 years in prison.

Rick Ritter

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