2 arrested in ambush shooting of Baltimore police officer

The suspects killed a man just one hour after shooting Officer Keona Holley, police said


By Justin Fenton, Jessica Anderson and Tim Prudente
Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Baltimore police have charged two suspects in the shooting of Officer Keona Holley, who remains on life support after being shot while sitting in her patrol car early Thursday morning, and say the men also carried out a killing an hour later in a different part of the city.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said investigators pieced evidence together including security camera footage from the Curtis Bay area and used license plate readers to identify the owner of a vehicle seen fleeing the area as Elliott M. Knox, 31.

Police found Knox and took him in for questioning, where he confessed to being present but said a second man, Travon Shaw, 32, had fired the shots, according to a document obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

The documents also show that Holley was shot twice in the head, one in the leg and once in the hand.

A second killing was reported in the Yale Heights neighborhood about an hour later, and police believe evidence connects the suspects to that killing as well. Police identified the victim in that case as Justin Johnson, 27.

Harrison said the two suspects are in custody and charged in connection with both cases. Two guns have been recovered and ballistic evidence links the two shootings, Harrison said. While investigators were confident in the evidence, Harrison said they did not know of a motive and were trying to learn more.

“We don’t know why they did this,” Harrison said at a news conference.

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Court records show Shaw has been free on his own recognizance while awaiting trial in Baltimore County for a March 2020 arrest for being a felon in possession of a firearm. His trial date is set for March 2022. He had a previous conviction for armed robbery and assault, from a case in 2006, also in Baltimore County.

Knox, meanwhile, was convicted of three armed robberies in 2006 at age 16 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Holley, 39, joined the police department two years ago, and friends and family said she wanted to make a difference in her community. She was working an overtime shift in Curtis Bay but not responding to any calls at around 1:30 a.m. Thursday when police said she was ambushed and shot multiple times.

Harrison said she remains in stable but critical condition at Maryland Shock Trauma center.

Officials had not previously discussed the Yale Heights killing. It occurred at around 3:09 a.m. in the 600 block of Lucia Ave., and police said Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Harrison said police used technology to identify the vehicle seen fleeing the Curtis Bay scene, and found located the vehicle and took Knox in for questioning.

“The rest is great detective work,” Harrison said.

Documents compiled during the investigation and obtained by the Sun shed additional light on that detective work.

The shooting was not captured on tape, but cameras from the area, including individual home devices, showed a vehicle parking and two men getting out and walking toward Holley’s patrol cruiser, the documents show. Cameras captured the same men running up Hazel Street and getting into the car and fleeing.

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Using license plate readers, police identified the vehicle as a 2012 Hyundai, and its owner, Knox, the documents said. Members of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force it down in North Baltimore and conducted surveillance before eventually stopping Knox and taking him for questioning.

Knox waived his Miranda right to remain silent and identified himself in the security footage, and identified Shaw, according to the documents. Knox said he had taken the firearm used in the shooting and left it in a home in Windsor Mill, where police recovered it.

Harrison, Mayor Brandon Scott and State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby praised the work of investigators in piecing together evidence all day Thursday and overnight.

“Today as a city we send a message to anyone who wishes to foster an atmosphere of fear within our neighborhoods that reckless violence will not be tolerated by the community or by the Baltimore city law enforcement,” Mosby said.

Harrison said that he received a call Friday morning from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was offering resources to solve the case. Harrison said he was able to tell Garland that the case had already been solved.

Knox previously was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to three separate armed robberies in Baltimore County in 2006. He was 16 years old at the time, and electronic court records indicate he was recommended for a youthful offender program.

While incarcerated, he sued the state and several corrections officers alleging he was assaulted at North Branch Correctional Institution. Records reflect the case was settled, though the terms were unclear.

©2021 Baltimore Sun. Visit baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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