Gahiji A. Tshamba, the Baltimore police officer wanted on first-degree murder charges, turned himself in early Sunday after a vigorous effort to locate him, according to messages sent over Twitter by the Baltimore Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Tshamba was in Central Booking following an intensified effort by Baltimore Police to mobilize dozens of officers to comb city streets and distribute fliers to locate one of their own. He had been missing for more than 24 hours since a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The first-degree murder warrant was issued Friday afternoon, charging Tshamba in the killing of Tyrone Brown, 32, a former Marine who was unarmed when he was shot nine times at close range outside a Mount Vernon club. Police had hoped to negotiate Tshamba's surrender with his attorney, but no one had been able to contact the 15-year veteran as the search entered its second day.
Police had declared him their "No. 1 suspect" for the weekend.
Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said late Saturday afternoon that it was "only a matter of time" before Tshamba "pops up on the grid," perhaps through use of a credit card or telephone. By the evening, commanders had additional detectives fanning out across the city to step up the search.
"These charges are an aberration," Guglielmi said at a news conference Saturday night. "They're an affront to all of us that work for the BPD and an affront to the officers that work hard to make this city safe."
According to a statement from police, Tshamba surrendered with his attorney and will face charges of using a firearm in commission of a crime of violence, in addition to the murder charges, in connection with the shooting death of Brown.
In the statement, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III called Tshamba's actions an "aberration."
As detectives passed out fliers with Tshamba's picture describing him as a "dangerous/high risk apprehension," about 100 people gathered on the green in front of City Hall to remember Brown. Wearing T-shirts with Brown's photo and clutching candles, they prayed before releasing about a dozen heart-shaped balloons into the air.
"We should have locked [Tshamba] up that night," said Reginald Dargan, Brown's father. "I pray that they catch him. I leave it in God's hands."
Tshamba's attorney, Adam Sean Cohen, said he had not reached his client but was "not ready to say [Tshamba] is avoiding anything." He said Tshamba had been frustrated with the public outcry over the incident and may have "sequestered himself."
"He's definitely troubled by the allegation but looks forward to fighting the case in court," Cohen said. "I'm hopeful that this will resolve itself relatively soon."
Guglielmi called Tshamba "our number one suspect for the weekend" but said they do not believe he is a danger to himself or the public. He said the influx of resources was authorized by Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who was on vacation and has yet to comment publicly about the shooting or Tshamba's disappearance.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is "troubled" that Tshamba has not turned himself in and has been receiving updates that necessary resources were being deployed to track him down, according to spokesman Ryan O'Doherty. She will "not tolerate officers acting outside of the law," he said.
A regional task force of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies is always involved in serving murder warrants. But with the high-profile case lingering, top commanders authorized dozens of detectives from the Violent Crimes Impact Section and district detective units to get involved. His picture is being distributed nationally and regionally.
"It's gone from zero to 60," said a police official who requested anonymity. "This is different; this is a cop."
Police distributed fliers in neighborhoods such as Federal Hill and Fells Point, areas where sources said Tshamba was believed to frequent. As two Southern District detectives handed fliers to a sandwich shop owner Saturday night, an apparently intoxicated man walked up to an officer sitting in a parked car with his hands raised and said, "Don't shoot. Don't shoot."
The search for Tshamba capped a week of drama that began in the early hours of June 5, when the off-duty Baltimore police officer fired 13 rounds from his Glock service pistol at Brown during an alley confrontation in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, according to police and eyewitnesses.
Brown touched a female companion of Tshamba's inappropriately, witnesses said, angering the off-duty officer, who withdrew his weapon and challenged Brown to "do it again." Witnesses and police sources said Brown's hands were raised in the air as Tshamba began emptying the weapon.