Baltimore, MD –Officials have identified the officer who was ambushed as she sat in her police car in the Curtis Bay area early on Thursday as 39-year-old Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said that Officer Holley, a mother of four children, left nursing to join the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) in December of 2019 because she wanted to make a change in her city, WBAL reported.
Officials have called Officer Holley’s condition both “guarded” and “grave.”
Dr. Thomas Scalea, University of Maryland Shock Trauma physician in chief, told reporters that Officer Holley’s injuries were significant but did not provide any details at the request of the officer’s family, WTOP reported.
“She’s critically ill,” Scalea said late on Thursday. “She remains on full life-support measures at this time.”
Commissioner Harrison said that Officer Holley had volunteered to work overtime on Dec. 16 and was sitting in a patrol car in a crime-plagued neighborhood in the middle of the night when she was ambushed from behind by the gunman, WBAL reported.
Police said that Officer Holley hit the gas on her police vehicle after she was shot and crashed into the fence of Curtis Bay Park.
A disturbing video posted to social media showed the immediate aftermath of the shooting, with witnesses debating whether to call the police to get help for the wounded officer.
Officers responded to the crash scene and discovered the wrecked police car and Officer Holley suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
She was transported to University of Maryland Shock Trauma in critical condition.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and the police commissioner have repeatedly called the gunman who shot Officer Holley “a coward,” WBAL reported.
“She was where she was supposed to be doing what she was supposed to do,” Commissioner Harrison said.
He said investigators had recovered a vehicle connected to Officer Holley’s shooting, WBAL reported.
Detectives were interviewing people and processing evidence late on Thursday night, according to police.
Commissioner Harrison made a point to set the record straight on social media rumors about the attack on Officer Holley, WBAL reported.
“The information that we have right now suggests that it is not domestic, that this was a heinous, violent, cowardly, apparently very targeted act,” he told reporters. “There’s no way for us to know at this point if she would’ve known her assailant.”
Officer Holley’s family, including her sister, her mother, and her daughters, appeared at the press conference following a candlelight prayer vigil held outside Shock Trauma on Dec. 16, WBAL reported.
“She took on this job, she took on this responsibility. This has been a life-long goal of my sister to serve the Baltimore City Police Department,” her older sister, Lawanda Sykes, said.
BPD Officer Keona Holley, shot and critically wounded in ambush-type shooting.
In an impassioned plea for information from the public, her sister said: "She deserved better" pic.twitter.com/XF6lzeNgVC
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) December 16, 2021
“My sister dedicated herself to this job – she went in early, she stayed late, she spent countless hours away from her children to serve the community in the Southern District,” Sykes continued.
Officer Holley’s sister also called the gunman a “coward,” WBAL reported.
“I’m going to ask you, if you have an honest, decent, empathetic bone in your body that you speak up and say something,” she pleaded. “Come out and say something. The person who did this to my sister, you are a coward.”
Officer Keona Holley’s sister said her sister spent countless hours from her family to serve the city. @wjz pic.twitter.com/RGkpjbqXKx
— Avajoye Burnett (@AvajoyeWJZ) December 16, 2021
“You tried to snuff her and take something you can’t. She is stronger than you will ever be, and the force behind her is stronger than you will ever be,” Sykes said.
— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) December 16, 2021
Baltimore police initially announced a reward of $59,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot Officer Holley, and then Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said the state would double it to $118,000, WBAL reported.
Officer Holley was an advocate of policing reform and had appeared in a BPD public service announcement after joining the department.
Officer Holley has four children. Her sister provided an impassioned plea. If anyone deserves to be called Officer, she does. She joined the Baltimore Police in her late 30s-to make a difference.🙏🏽 Thank you, Officer Holley. $118,000 reward pic.twitter.com/izw2HuSOWu
— T.J. Smith (@TJSmithSocial) December 16, 2021
Police departments across the nation have posted tributes in support of Officer Holley and Baltimore police.
The men and women of the Harford County Sheriff's Office send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Officer Keona Holley as she fights to recover from her injuries and to our brothers and sisters in blue as they cope with this senseless act of violence. @BaltimorePolice pic.twitter.com/Q5XE1NzAFy
— Harford Sheriff (@Harford_Sheriff) December 16, 2021
Officer Holley is popular with the residents of Curtis Bay and business owners along Pennington Avenue – where the officer was shot – described her to WBAL as a caring person.
“I feel so bad,” Resik Patel, the owner of the Soda Pop Shop across the street from where Officer Holley was shot, said.
“She is a nice police officer,” Patel told WBAL. “Every time she worked the night duty, she [came] when we close, ‘Hey, pop, how you doing?’ In the morning duty, she comes around 12 o’clock. She would talk. She was a nice officer and I feel so bad.”