BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Police Department rejected calls for the FBI to take over the investigation into murdered detective Sean Suiter, who was shot in the head at close range with his own service weapon the day before his scheduled federal grand jury testimony in a police corruption case.
“The Baltimore City Police Department is going to investigate this murder,” said police spokesman T.J. Smith. “We’re still the lead investigators. We work in concert with our federal partners, and for people to think that there’s a takeover or anything like that, no. We’re focused on finding the person who murdered detective Suiter.”
The shooting happened in West Baltimore’s Harlem Park neighborhood on November 15.
Suiter and his partner were investigating a triple murder that happened in December 2016.
Police say Suiter spotted a suspicious person, and went alone to a vacant lot to investigate. Police say Suiter and the man engaged in a struggle for his gun. Suiter was found clutching his radio, shot in the head with a single bullet.
“People ask if he was lured to the area. No, he was not lured into the area. We actually have surveillance video that corroborates that he was making a spontaneous observation. Something as a police officer that drew his attention, and he acted on it,” Smith said.
Governor Larry Hogan called Suiter a hero at a press conference in Annapolis Tuesday.
“It’s a tragic situation, and I have been been in constant communication with members of the Baltimore City Police Department,” Hogan said. “And I had a very long and difficult conversation with detective Suiter’s widow right after the tragic shooting. I am going to speak at the funeral and do my best to honor detective Sean Suiter.”
Hogan said he is not pressing for the FBI to take over the case, and he has confidence in Baltimore PD Commissioner Kevin Davis.
“I don’t know enough of the details of the case yet. At some point obviously, the more eyes we have on this the better. I believe the FBI is already in the city and working with them, but has not taken over the case. That’s something I’m not sure needs to happen at this point. I don’t want to interfere with the investigation,” Hogan said.
Ricky Jackson came to the second viewing for detective Suiter at a funeral home in Randallstown.
He shared a final text he sent to Suiter before his death, telling him to “be safe.”
The two became friends after Jackson was robbed five years ago and Suiter solved the case.
“He was just more than a detective to me. He had that human touch that gave you the feeling that he really cared about your well-being. Tears came to my eyes, and I shouted out, ‘Not Sean. Not Sean,'” Jackson said.
Jackson has numerous questions about the case, especially knowing Suiter was less than 24 hours away from testifying.
“It’s too coincidental, and I want to know how Sean, a trained detective, allowed another person to wrestle his gun away from him.
Law enforcement from around Maryland attended the viewing Tuesday.
Suiter was 43 and is survived by his wife and five children.