Baltimore police said Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba surrendered to authorities early Sunday after a warrant was issued for his arrest for the first-degree murder of an unarmed man outside a nightclub last week.
Tshamba arrived with his lawyer at Central Booking Intake Facility in Baltimore around 1:30 a.m., according to police, The surrender came after more than 24 hours of fruitless searching and an intensified search by Baltimore police, which included mobilizing dozens of officers to comb city streets and distribute fliers to locate one of their own.
A 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 a second day.
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."
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 before the surrender that Tshamba "is definitely troubled by the allegation but looks forward to fighting the case in court."
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.
Within two days, police handed off their investigation to prosecutors and said they had found no credible evidence to justify Tshamba's actions. The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that Tshamba had been involved in a prior off-duty shooting in which he had been driving with a blood-alcohol level of .12, over the legal limit of .08 percent.
As police stepped up efforts to publicly pressure prosecutors, Tshamba continued to check in at the Eastern District station and was said to be screening potential attorneys.
Though criminal charges were expected, Tshamba was never placed under surveillance, which some observers found troubling.
Veteran Baltimore trial attorney Andrew C. White said he found it "troubling" that Tshamba hadn't been located more than 24 hours after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
"They should definitely be able to find somebody as publicly available as a police officer in 20 minutes," said White, who has no involvement in the case. He said police should have placed Tshamba under surveillance by one or two fellow officers, "so they could be sure they knew where he was."
White noted that police in Connecticut kept Yale University animal lab technician Raymond Clark III under close watch last year while they weighed evidence against him in the slaying of 24-year-old graduate student Annie Le. Clark was eventually arrested and charged with her murder.
Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, who now hosts a radio show, said, "If you're planning to charge someone with a capital crime, you would want to keep them under surveillance." But he said that Tshamba's apparent decision to flee could not necessarily have been anticipated.
"In terms of policemen charged with crimes like this, very few, if any, can I remember fleeing," Norris said.
Guglielmi said Baltimore police had to "treat this like any other homicide suspect. If you put somebody under surveillance, that could become an issue at trial." He said "all of Tshamba's weapons" had been seized, and police had no inkling that he would flee. He was believed to be staying with friends, and his family was cooperating with police.
He chastised the media, saying that word of the search for Tshamba might have given the officer a chance to disappear.
But Cohen said leaks from the department about the investigation had deeply troubled his client, saying he was being "served up on a silver platter." He said Tshamba is eager to tell his side when the appropriate time comes. He refused to take a breath test to show whether he had been drinking and has not given any statement to investigating officers.
He also said Tshamba was startled by a death threat reported to police earlier in the week. Police received a call from someone claiming to be a relative of Brown, who said a young cousin was intent on revenge. Sources say that the call was ultimately deemed to be a hoax, but Cohen said that message never got back to Tshamba.
"As soon as I have a dialogue with him, I will tell him 'You have to turn yourself in,'" Cohen said. "If I have to pick him up somewhere, I will."
Tshamba, whose past includes lawsuits over paternity, child support and unpaid rent, had a history of late-night episodes involving alcohol and gun violence that predated last weekend's fatal shooting. He was said to be a regular at upscale clubs in the city, but was generally low-key.
He was suspended for eight days but allowed to remain on the city police force after a 2005 incident in which he shot a man in the foot after an off-duty altercation that included driving under the influence of alcohol. In 2006, he was disciplined again after losing control of his car on Pulaski Highway just before 2 a.m.
Outside City Hall, friends and associates of Brown who gathered for the vigil, shared memories of the East Baltimore resident, whose Marine service included four years of combat duty in Iraq.
"Justice is still out there to be served," said Brown's sister, Chantay Kangalee, who was with him when he was shot. She organized the vigil, choosing the spot in front of City Hall because, "It's too hard to go back to the scene of everything."
Several Marines from Brown's unit attended, with some driving from as far away as St. Mary's County.
Marine James Maguire called Brown "outgoing, honest and friendly," and called what happened "an injustice."
"It's so sad," said Dargan, "that he went through all of that [serving in Iraq,] and now he had to come here to get killed by someone who is supposed to be upholding the law."