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January 9, 2011

Two officers shot, one killed, outside downtown club

Click here for the most updated version of this story.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police do not expect to provide more information today on the Sunday morning shooting. He said detectives will be gathering surveillance camera footage and reviewing physical evidence.

He said the three civilians who were shot and wounded were all women in the early 20s, who were shot in their lower extremities.

UPDATE: 10:10 a.m. Sources are identifying the officer killed this morning as William H. Torbit Jr., 33, who was assigned to the Central District operations unit. On Twitter and Facebook, friends are mourning the civilian victim, Sean "Loz" Gamble. Police are not confirming either victim's identity.

A friend, Corey Brown said Gamble had a young child and was engaged to be married. He worked for a waste management company and had no criminal record.

"He's not a violent kid - he's not in the streets," said Brown. "He's not even cut from that cloth. Apparently he got in a fight, and the cops start shooting. Not in the air - in the crowd, and they shot him."

Attempts to locate friends and family of Torbit were not immediately successful.

UPDATE: 6:45 a.m. Two Baltimore police officers were shot, one of them fatally, when gunfire erupted early Sunday outside of a club near downtown. Six people in all were shot and two killed.

Two sources said detectives are exploring whether the officer who was killed was shot by another officer amid a chaotic scene outside the Select Lounge in the 400 block of N. Paca St.

The incident occurred at about 1:15 a.m. when police were called to break up fights and control a crowd outside the club near Franklin Street in Seton Hill, said Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. 

"There was an altercation that took place very near the club and some officers worked to intercede in that fight, at which time some gunshots were discharged," Bealefeld said. "Several officers fired multiple shots."

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was in the early stages, said the officer who was fatally shot was in plainclothes and was being attacked by a group of people moments before the gunfire rang out.

An eight-year veteran of the force whose name was not disclosed was shot and killed, Bealefeld said. A second officer, an 11-year veteran, was shot in the foot. Both officers were assigned to the Central District and were on duty, police said. One was in uniform and the other was in plainclothes, police said.

Police did not provide information about the civilian victims, and could not say what prompted the officers to fire their weapons or whether anyone other than the officers fired a gun.

"We're a few hours into this whole ordeal, and we have scores of detectives working on the case, processing evidence, interviewing witnesses," Bealefeld said. "We have a ton of work to do to put together the facts of what happened."

At the scene, police tape still blocked off a parking lot adjacent to Select Lounge. A "VIP Parking" placard remained in the street, and the parking lot was full.

A number of downtown clubs have been plagued by violence in recent years, with officials pushing to padlock or revoke the licenses of two prominent nightspots. Select Lounge opened just two months ago, with its web site still saying that it is "coming soon." Midnight Sun reviewed the club in November, and Ravens player Dannell Ellerbe chose the club to celebrate his birthday in December.

One police official said dozens of people had been transported to the homicide unit for interviews, and on the police scanner an officer called for an escort to take one of the victims from Shock Trauma to police headquarters.

"What we need to figure out is what sparked the shooting," said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman. "Was there a weapon drawn by a civilian? Was the officer's weapon taken? We've got to put together a timeline and figure out what happened."

The web site Investigative Voice reported that an off-duty officer had fired a weapon to subdue a possibly armed person and that a second off-duty officer opened fire in response. Bealefeld said he had "no information on anything like that," though he said his priority was on comforting the slain officer's family and he had only basic information.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the shooting an "absolutely horrible incident." Three officers were killed in a span of a few weeks in October, and an officer was shot and wounded outside a downtown club in November. 

Police did not identify the civilian victims, but on Twitter, friends of one of the victims were talking about his death, identifying him as Sean Gamble. Police said they could not confirm his identity.

On the site, Select Lounge bills itself as catering to a "professional, upscale crowd" and the "premiere destination for sophisticated club connoisseurs, savvy socialites, A-list celebrities and the Baltimore's [sic] elite." It boasts of a private VIP lounge for "the ultimate in discreet experiences." One officer told The Sun that the club had not drawn disproportionate police attention since its opening.

Click here for a stream of Twitter messages about the club and the shooting.

4:34 a.m. Two police officers are among six people shot and wounded outside a downtown Baltimore club, and one of the officers has died, police say.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III was at Maryland Shock Trauma Center meeting with the officers' families. Guglielmi said the officers were on-duty at the time. 

Details were not immediately clear. Guglielmi said the shooting occurred outside Club Select at Paca and N. Franklin St. a few blocks north of Lexington Market. 

This blog post will be updated as more information becomes available. Also follow justin_fenton on Twitter for updates from the hospital.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:34 AM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Breaking news, Downtown, Police shootings


My condolences to the family of the officer who was killed. What another senseless act of crime. Not off to a good start to the new year, and now we're going to cut the pay of Police Officers? I wonder how many officers will leave the city police force.

The police have a miserable job in general. They are social workers, counselors and soldiers in wars on drugs, guns and organized gangs. They are in the middle of family disputes, often violent. Can we agree that if anyone kills a cop in MD and that the factual evidence is either that the person physically killed the officer, or ordered someone else to kill and officer and the murder occurred, that the penalty is death, with appeals only as to the credibiltiy of evidence that the killer actually did or ordered the crime? With a five year limit on appeals following an initial conviction? Of course not. Rights of killers in MD exceeed rights of dead officers, let alone rights of the dead citizens regularly mowed down. Swiftly carried out death sentences, with intense publicity, will make cop killing rare indeed. MD reduction in murders in like saying Vietnam had fewer combat deaths than WWII. Acceptable to you, the reader? Acceptable to you, Governor, or chief Law Enforcer?

Well, there’s one thing we know for SURE:
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is safe and sound each night snuggling next to her hubby in his Columbia, Howard County home…

Very tragic. Ultimately, criminal behavior created this situation resulting in possible friendly-fire. A sad day for Baltimore. Prayers and thoughts for these officers and their families.

Condolences to the dead and injured. I am very sorry these Americans were killed and injured.

Dear Shooter:
Once you are convicted you will become a Slave before being executed. Slavery is still legal in the U.S. when one is convicted of a crime. There is an excerpt of the U.S. Constitution at toyota runaway org that explains how it works.

My heart is so heavy this morning. Being a part of this family sometimes has more grief than smiles, but I am in it for the long haul. My prayers go out to the family and to my law enforcement family. Now is not to throw digs at the Mayor who only cares about what she wants and not what is best for the City of Baltimore.

Its only a matter of time when the nightlife in baltimore becomes extinct. There is no place 2 go anymore because this generation doesn't care about anyone but themselves

Baltimore's great:

William 'Pistol Pete' Welch on the City Council

Ravens partying in dives that have no crowd control

Police officers shooting patrons of bars while drinking (Mt. Vernon)

A corrupt City Council

Lousy (and corrupt admin) schools that can't educate

But hey, we're gonna have a Grand Prix race, never mind

Sad and sad that a poster would immediately use this as a reason why cops shouldn't sacrifice pay like the rest of us. This might be friendly fire. It might not be. We should find out the facts first.

deltasweetiepi ain't so sweet after all. You said, "Now is not to throw digs at the Mayor who only cares about what she wants and not what is best for the City of Baltimore."

Nice dig.

Sooo, Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake technically does not reside in Baltimore?

What's worse than the feral thugs are the inbred hillbillies who really think they've got it going on in this town. This is a sad, patthetic, ugly little town where the poor fight amongst themselves while the uber rich profit from their misery. I just can't believe the virulent racism in this town.

We are lucky that anyone wants to be a police officer in Baltimore. Instead of cutting their pay, we should be raising it.

My condolences go out to the officer and the family members... R.I.P. to my friend Sean Gamble... praying for your family.. gone too soon. This is so unreal... senseless and rediculous

Just another weekend in Baltimore....

A slave? No a moocher off the taxpayers who pay for their bed, meals and existence.

Just wall off the city just inside the beltway , it is already started with the 'sound barrier' walls,,,,,,,complete the job..............

When are people going to to stay their azzes home!!!!!!!!!

For the last few decades, Baltimore City has been run by such a wonderful group of politicians who are more concerned for the safety of the citizens and the growth of the city. No wonder families are clamoring to move into downtown Baltimore City. No wonder businesses are fighting over who gets to open a store in downtown Baltimore City. You just keep right on electing those politicians.

Another gun tragedy. Where will it all end? By the way, where the mayor sleeps has no bearing on the true question begging for an answer: Why is our society so armed and violent?

Incidents like this is why white people still harbor racist attitudes. Animals do not act like this; savages do.

Sounds like the shooter was a cop. You all still want to execute him?
Someone needs to be charged with at least manslaughter and I don't care if he is a cop!

Notice that the cop response is
1. See, we deserve more pay.
2. We are praying only for the police officer who was killed. We could care less about the citizen of Baltimore who was killed.
3. Someone besides a police officer must be guilty of something and should fry for it.

Another weekend in Baltimore
another officer dead, do the people of this city care?
the police lower crime to levels that have not been seen in this city for decades.
again i ask do the people of the this city care?
the media of this city cant wait to make the department look like Gestapo to the public.
are police perfect ? what person is.
do the police of this city work in some of the most dangerous areas in the country, for less pay then their brothers throughout the state?
police choose this life, true
i think the saying is : its a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.
who else is going to wade through all the drugs, blood and B.S that this city puts out? the media ? city hall? you?
I know you all will get right to it, as soon as police start making more in this city.
another cop dead in this city. does the city cry for him and his family?
god bless his family in this sad time

Why is it that when there is minority involvement, no mention of race or ethnicity is made?

The full story has not been reported, but my first suspicion when I see "club" and "fight," or there is some melee, is that black people were involved.

In one relatively recent incident, an officer was indicted for shooting an unarmed man.

Questions arise as to what caused resort to firearms. Is it reduced recruiting standards to accommodate minorities and women? In "the good old days," the beefy cops would have waded in and used manual force if there were no other weapons involved. Nowadays, there seems to be unnecessary gunfire.

Of course, restraint in the behavior of the clientele of the lounge, would have also prevented escalation. Aggressiveness and confrontational behavior elicit such a response.

Sincere condolences to the family and friends of this officer. They have cut officers' pay. Who exactly do they think will do this type of work? Yet we're all fired up about a car race. There are just so many things basically wrong right now it would be hard to even know where to begin. Baltimore is just gasping and dying and there is no motivation to resolve anything. Crime, drugs, taxes, economic stagnation, schools, on and on.
Some try to put on a optimistic facade but a facade is all it is. Just like this city.


Interesting to note, NO guns used except Police...all those shot were hit in legs and two witness show up and point out that the four officers shooting were shooting at a fellow office who was "ON HIS BACK ON THE GROUND"!! Four officers, 41 bullets fired, all injuries done by Police...looks like training is a little poor here.

look man very sad to say this but
the mayor she knows a bout the gangs
here in baltimore bloods crips ms13
18th street gang jamaican gangs vicelords
gangster disciples look do something
a bout ok baltimore can a safe city
if people work each other and stop the
dum shit hell i live in patterson park
and 18th street mexican gang ms13
latin kings fight over their you just do
not here a bout it its sad come man lets
get real their was three drive byes

four weeks ago something has to be
done gangs are not just in the city
they are in essex rosedale woodlwan
parkville even towson middle river
and brooklyn park randallestown owings
is slowly getting little gang stuff out their
i know because i have families that
live in some of those areas ok real
talk and stop talking a bout the gangs
are fake because they killing eacother
god dame man

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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