By J. K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

Baltimore’s Police Department (BPD) announced the arrest of two men that they suspect in the shooting of Officer Keona Holley, Dec. 17.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison claimed to have confessions from the two suspects, but no motive.

Officer Holley was shot as she sat in her patrol car in the 4400 block of Pennington Avenue at approximately 1:45 a.m. on Dec. 16. The two suspects are accused of a shooting murder of Justin Johnson in the 600 block of Lucia Ave approximately two hours later.

Holley fled the scene in her vehicle, only to crash into a fenced portion of Curtis Bay Park.

The officer is being treated at Maryland Shock Trauma. She is in intensive care, and reported to be on life support. 

Police have possession of two firearms, one that they confirmed was used in both crimes.

Commissioner Harrison credits numerous tips from the community for the fast closure of the case.

“Those tips aided us in putting pieces together, like putting together the pieces of a puzzle,” Harrison said.

“Building a better Baltimore, a safer Baltimore, is a team effort,” Mayor Brandon M. Scott said. “And it requires all of us, all of us, who say we love Baltimore.”

“Do what Keona did, and that’s look in the mirror and consider our role and responsibility in making our city a safer city,” Mayor Scott added.

Woman behind the badge: Who is Keona Holley?

“She’s a good lady,” a Baltimore resident told the AFRO. 

He declined to be identified as he and a reporter watched Southern District Police tow away a car in the Curtis Bay neighborhood.

“She’s nice too,” he said. “I always see her around and she always spoke to us.”

Officer Holley had volunteered for an overtime shift the night she was shot.

“I feel bad for her and her family because she’s a good cop,” the resident said. “A lot of people are like ‘F– cops,’ and stuff like that. You have some cops that deserve respect, but you have some of them that don’t. These two cops, of all the people I know, deserve a lot of respect.”

Holley patrolled this neighborhood with another woman officer.

“I respect them as human beings. I don’t look at their job. I look at their personality as human beings. I feel as though this shouldn’t have happened.”

The resident described the ideal BPD officer.

“She’d show up, hop out, have a conversation with us,” the resident said. “I’d cut on some music sometimes on my phone, and she’d dance with me sometimes.”

He continued to praise Officer Holley’s integrity, “She never did anything bad. She’d pull up, she didn’t have to say anything. You know. She was so respectful, and everybody respected her so much that if she pulled up, and we’re in front of the store chit-chatting, she’d pull up and we’d walk away.”

The Mayor continued to appeal to Officer Holley’s spirit and the spirit of a community that turned in the two suspects.

“We have to expose the folks that think like this as a community, in addition with our police department with all the efforts that we have going on,” Scott said. “The folks who are doing this are cowards, they’re spineless, and those who are harboring them are the same. We cannot allow these folks to return to our community, to go out with them to watch the Ravens, to go out with them to the mall, to the movies, to a restaurant, we cannot allow these people to live amongst us.”

Baltimore marked its 300th murder in mid-November 2021. The fifth consecutive such over 300-murder year. 

The Mayor faces criticism from the community for his approach, described by his office as “holistic” and community-informed, which was implemented July 2021. It is a five-year plan still making opening moves, 911 diversion, jobs programs, and improving public health.

BPD’s budget nevertheless increased this year, to $555 million.

The Mayor’s praise of community action in these two arrests and appeal for more of the same slot into his “three-pillars” approach to coordination between BPD and the community it serves.

BPD did not respond to AFRO questions for comment and information.

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