Loren Brown held her 8-year-old daughter's hand as they said goodbye to a man they both loved. Taking their seats, Brown embraced her daughter, who rested her head on her mommy's shoulder. Together, they somberly accepted a loss they never expected. Five feet ahead of them lay Brown's husband and her child's father in a casket.
Shot 12 times by off-duty Baltimore City police officer Gahiji Tshamba on June 5, 32-year-old Tyrone Brown was laid to rest on June 16.
Tshamba, 36, is now in jail on charges of first-degree murder, assault, and using a firearm in the commission of a crime. The Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) placed him on desk duty while city homicide detectives, the FBI and the state's attorney's office investigated the case. A warrant was obtained for his arrest on June 18 after the state decided to file criminal charges. After going missing for over 24 hours, the 15-year veteran turned himself in on Sunday.
Tshamba's attorney told WJZ that he fired his gun out of fear for his life after stepping in to help a woman whom he alleges Brown had sexually assaulted. "There was no sexual assault," Andrew Freeman, who represents Brown's family, said according to the report. Freeman plans to file a civil suit on behalf of Brown's family.
BCPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Brown's sister witnessed the incident and said there was no fight. But other witnesses claim there was a physical altercation. In either situation, Brown was unarmed when Tshamba fired 13 close-range shots from his service weapon. Initial reports said six shots hit Brown, and later reports said nine bullets struck him. In the end, investigators confirmed that only one of the bullets missed its target. Pierced 12 times in the chest and groin, Brown died a short time later – just days before he was to attend his son's eighth-grade graduation in California and weeks before he was to escort one of his sisters down the aisle at her wedding.
"There was no threat we could find that would easily explain why this officer discharged his weapon 13 times," Guglielmi said.
Brown, a marine who survived two tours of duty in Iraq, was born and raised in East Baltimore. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1997 and was deployed to Kosovo after boot camp. A decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Brown helped facilitate the country's first democratic election. During peacetime, he volunteered with Toys for Tots to collect items for the area's underprivileged children.
Helping others was just a part of Brown's nature, close friends said.
"He was the type of dude to give you the shirt off his back," Taavon Stewart said at the funeral service. "When I got the call, it blew my mind."
As the lid to the casket was slowly closed, a thunderous cry boomed from the front row of Morgan State University's fine arts center where Brown's family sat during the funeral. His fellow marines placed a folded American flag on top of the casket, along with his U.S. Marine Corps barracks cover.
"Tyrone Brown will live," the funeral director said, "although his life was cut short."