Baltimore officer was killed with his own gun, police say

A Baltimore homicide detective was fatally shot in the head with his own gun after a struggle with his killer last week, the city’s police commissioner said Wednesday.

Sean Suiter, an 18-year department veteran, was investigating a killing in west Baltimore on November 15 when he saw a man exhibiting suspicious behaviors, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. Suiter died the next day at a hospital.

No arrest has been made in the killing.

Suiter was to testify before a grand jury the day after he was killed, Davis said. The grand jury is looking at a case involving several Baltimore officers who were federally indicted in March.

In an apparent attempt to address speculation about a connection between Suiter’s killing and his pending testimony, Davis said the Suiter and his partner were not lured to the scene of the shooting and made a “spontaneous decision” to investigate the suspicious man.

“It certainly makes for great theater,” Davis said. “We have a police officer who’s shot and killed and we don’t have a really good description, and we don’t have someone in custody — and lo and behold … I found out after the fact that he was scheduled to testify in front of a federal grand jury.”

Davis added: “I understand the speculation that exists. … It’s our responsibility really to follow the evidence and there’s no evidence whatsoever.”

In March, seven Baltimore officers, members of the department’s Gun Trace Task Force, were accused in a federal racketeering indictment of robbing people, claiming fraudulent overtime and filing false affidavits.

Davis said federal officials told him “in no uncertain terms” that the 43-year-old father of five was not the target of any ongoing criminal investigation.

“There is no information that has been communicated to me that Detective Suiter was anything other than a stellar detective, great friend, loving husband and dedicated father,” Davis said.

The officers first saw the killer acting suspiciously about 20 minutes before Suiter’s fatal encounter, police said.

Davis said Suiter struggled with his killer, making a brief call on his police radio at the time of the killing, Davis said. Suiter’s clothing indicated he and the killer had struggled, Davis said.

The officer was found with the radio still in his hand, the commissioner said.

“It’s unintelligible right now,” Davis said of the radio call. “We don’t know exactly what he said but he was clearly in distress,” Davis said, adding that the FBI is working with the department to enhance the radio transmission.

There was also the apparent sound of gunfire in the background of the radio call, Davis said. Suiter’s partner, also a detective, took cover across the street and called 911 when the gunfire erupted, Davis said.

Suiter was shot in the head at close range, the police commissioner said. The officer’s DNA was found on the fatal round recovered from the scene, Davis said.

The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Suiter’s killer has grown to $215,000.

Earlier in the week, Davis said he believed the killer was still in the city and he may be wounded.

Suiter’s funeral is scheduled for November 29, Davis said.

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Ollie the pit bull’s killer believes in animal sacrifices, detectives say

The man who Hollywood Police Department detectives believe beat, stabbed and trapped a pit bull named Ollie inside a blue suitcase was behind bars Wednesday. 

Brendan Evans, 31, was charged with aggravated animal cruelty. Police officers said he had claimed to practice voodoo and believed it was his religious right to kill a duck if he wanted to.

In his apartment, Hollywood detectives found an 8-pointed star on a kitchen wall. There was a shrine with candles. and pieces of the Crime Stoppers’ flyer showing a picture of Ollie.

“We were all pulling for Ollie to survive, but unfortunately he didn’t make it,” Acting Chief Chris O’Brien said in a statement. “However, due to our investigation, we are no able to provide justice for Ollie.”

Animal activists recognized Evan Wednesday night. They had been searching for evidence of reports that he had been sacrificing kittens. They used social media to distribute his photo anonymously earlier this year. 

Miranda Grossman, a spokeswoman for the department, said detectives searched Evans’ apartment at 1935 Lee St., on Nov. 14.  It was about a month after a couple saw a dog’s paw was sticking out from the suitcase and called police.  

Officers rushed Ollie to the VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital, where veterinarians learned he had been stabbed more than 50 times.   Animal lovers from all over the world pulled together to help Grateful Paws Dog and Cat Rescue to raise funds to help Ollie survive the vicious attack.

When Ollie died at the VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital two days later,  animal lovers were waiting for justice in the case. Linda Ream, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said Ollie remained friendly and sweet until his last day. 

“When he died, there were tears,” Ream said. 

Detectives linked Evans’ DNA to the suitcase where Ollie was found Oct. 10. Evans, who had a history of domestic violence, had been on probation for a bank robbery in Hernando County and detectives linked his fingerprints to a residential burglary. 

“He was taken into custody for the burglary and violation of probation,” Grossman said.  

 After detectives found evidence linking him to the crime, Evans was charged in the animal cruelty case while in custody. He remained at Broward County Jail Wednesday night. 

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Kate Steinle murder trial: No verdict after second day of deliberations

Jurors failed to reach a verdict Wednesday after the second day of deliberations in the trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who is accused of the July 2015 killing of Kate Steinle in a case that became a rallying point in a national debate over immigration policy.

Garcia Zarate, a 45-year-old Mexican citizen and undocumented immigrant, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Steinle.

Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate was playing his own “secret version of Russian roulette” when he deliberately fired into an unsuspecting crowd on a San Francisco pier, killing Steinle.

But defense attorneys argued that Garcia Zarate found the 40-caliber Sig Sauer pistol, which then went off accidentally. The bullet ricocheted off the ground and traveled about 80 feet before striking Steinle, attorney Matt Gonzalez said.

“But for the ricochet, it does not hit her,” Gonzalez told jurors during closing arguments.

Prosecutors described Steinle, a 32-year-old medical device sales representative, as “a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished person” gone too soon.

Closing arguments concluded Tuesday afternoon in the trial. Jurors will also be allowed to consider first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter convictions.

Jurors began deliberating just before noon local time.

Sanctuary cities debate

The undocumented status of the defendant and San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city” brought the murder trial into the larger political debate on immigration policies.

Garcia Zarate had been deported from the United States five times before the shooting. Before the shooting, officials in San Francisco released Garcia Zarate from custody instead of turning him over to immigration authorities.

Donald Trump mentioned Steinle’s case on the campaign trail as part of his argument for a stricter approach to immigration policy.

“This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately,” Trump said in a statement in July 2015. “This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it. Nobody else has the guts to even talk about it. That won’t happen if I become President.”

Trump also included Steinle in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention after winning the Republican presidential nomination.

In June, the House of Representatives passed “Kate’s Law,” a bill that would create harsher penalties for repeat illegal entry to the United States and would expand US law to pressure local cities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

Garcia Zarate was formerly known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, one of several aliases he is known to have used. CNN and other media outlets previously identified him as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez.

Closing arguments

Defense attorneys positioned the shooting as a tragic accident and said Garcia Zarate picked up an object wrapped in a cloth or T-shirt.

“He didn’t know the contents and a bullet was fired. He had no intent to hurt anyone,” attorney Gonzalez said.

In a police interview, Garcia Zarate admitted to firing the gun, but he said he was aiming at a seal. He also told police he had never shot a gun before.

However, prosecutors said he attempted to cover his tracks by throwing the weapon into the San Francisco Bay and fleeing the scene. Prosecutors said the argument that the gun was found wrapped in cloth was “fiction,” and that no cloth was found on the pier.

“It’s clear he wanted to fire the gun at people. You know that this gun just doesn’t go off,” lead prosecutor Diana Garcia said. “There’s no reason why this gun would have gone off, other than this defendant pulling the trigger.”

There was a “conscious disregard for everyone” on the pier, she added.

“We’ll never know why, but we know he did it. All the evidence shows you this.”

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France calls for UN Security Council meeting on Libya slave auctions

French President Emmanuel Macron called the sale of migrants at slave auctions in Libya “a crime against humanity” and vowed to press for sanctions.

France has requested an “urgent” meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss this treatment of migrants in Libya, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said. France will advocate for international sanctions against Libya if its justice system fails to act, he said.

Libyan authorities launched a formal investigation into the human slave auctions, which CNN revealed this month in exclusive reporting.

After obtaining footage of a human auction in Libya, a CNN team went to the country in October to investigate. It saw a dozen men sold at an auction outside of the capital, Tripoli — some for as little as $400. The crew was told of auctions taking place at nine locations in the country.

Auctions report sparks Paris protest

News of the auctions sparked protests outside of the Libyan Embassy in Paris. French soccer star Paul Pogba raised the issue after scoring a goal for his club, Manchester United, putting his wrists together as if they were handcuffed.

The UN secretary-general said Monday that the reports from Libya demonstrate some of “the most egregious abuses of human rights” and may amount to crimes against humanity,

Secretary-General António Guterres urged the international community to unite on the issue and called on all countries to adopt the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on human trafficking.

“I abhor these appalling acts and call upon all competent authorities to investigate these activities without delay and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Guterres said. “I have asked the relevant United Nations actors to actively pursue this matter.”

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