BALTIMORE -- A Baltimore police officer is in critical condition after being ambushed and shot while sitting in a patrol vehicle early Thursday, authorities say.
Dr. Thomas Scalea said at a briefing outside the University of Maryland Medical Center's Shock Trauma Center that the officer, later identified as Keona Holley, was shot multiple times and was on life support, The Baltimore Sun reports.
“She's critically ill,” Scalea said at a late-afternoon news conference. “She remains on full life-support measures at this time.”
Holley's injuries are “significant,” Scalea said, declining to provide details based on the family's wishes.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the officer was on duty but not responding to a call in the Curtis Bay area of southern Baltimore about 1:30 a.m. when the shooter approached from behind and opened fire and the officer's vehicle, which had been parked near a building, accelerated and crashed.
Officers responding to a report of a crash found Holley, who appeared to be suffering from life-threatening gunshot wounds, then worked to get the wounded officer to Shock Trauma as quickly as possible, police said in a news release.
Harrison told the afternoon news conference that a vehicle of interest has been identified and is being held by police. Investigators were interviewing people possibly connected to the shooting, he said, noting that video footage has been recovered as well as information from citizens.
“This was a heinous, violent, cowardly, very targeted act,” the commissioner said. Harrison said the shooting didn't appear to be a domestic incident.
The officer's sister, Lawanda Sykes, told the news conference that Holley had a life-long goal of working for the Baltimore Police Department. She urged anyone with information to come forward, and she had words for the suspect.
“The person who did this to my sister, you are a coward,” Sykes said. “You tried to snuff her and take something that you can't. She is stronger than you will ever be.”
Kevin Kreamer, who lives across the street from Curtis Bay Park, said he heard a loud crash that he now knows was the officer’s patrol vehicle hitting a fence and going over a ledge toward the playground. He said his wife heard several gunshots.
“It’s terrible,” Kreamer told The Baltimore Sun. “My kids play at this park sometimes.”
About 30 police cars were in the neighborhood, blocking off the park’s perimeter, but they were gone around daybreak, Kreamer said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted that he has offered the full resources of Maryland State Police to help with the investigation after the officer “was shot in a despicable, ambush-style attack.”
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also assisting city police with the investigation.
The city police union, Metro Crime Stoppers, ATF, FBI and U.S. Marshal Service were offering rewards totaling $59,000 for tips in the case. Hogan tweeted Thursday evening that the state would match the rewards for a total of $118,000.
The Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 tweeted early Thursday that city and state police union leaders were at the hospital and asked people to keep the officer in their prayers.
Harrison said he and Mayor Brandon Scott met with the officer’s family members, “who are, like us, obviously angry, confused, in search of answers, and have an expectation that we will find who did this and hold one or as many people responsible for this as possible.”
“Personally, I am outraged, disgusted and heartbroken all at once,” Scott said. “ ... I know that Officer Holley did not deserve this. Officer Holley's loved ones and family don't deserve this.”
Holley had volunteered to work an overtime shift, according to Scott.
The police knew few details on the shooting and were asking the public for help finding more information.
“We have a coward on the loose in Baltimore that we must and will find,” Scott said.
Senate President Bill Ferguson, who represents Curtis Bay, told WBAL-AM's “C4 and Bryan Nehman Show” Thursday morning that he visited the Southern District police station, where officers were in shock.
“It’s a level of depravity that just shakes us to our core,” Ferguson said. “I hope it’s wake-up call that we are on a trajectory that does not work.”
There must be a coordinated plan and every resource must be at the table, whether at the state or local level, he said.
"Everyone has to put their ego aside, get around a table and say, ‘This cannot continue,’” Ferguson said.