BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Less than 24 hours after a man dubbed Public Enemy No. 1 turned himself into police for the shooting of a Baltimore City police officer, his father says people shouldn't rush to judge his son until all the facts of the case are known.
Rochelle Ritchie spoke with the suspect and his father.
Many questions remain as to why Sgt. Keith Mcneill was shot multiple times, what was the motive and what evidence did police find linking their suspect, 34-year-old Gregg Thomas, to the crime.
Since Friday, armed SWAT teams conducted searches on several homes from east to west Baltimore, as the hunt for Thomas picked up steam.
"This coward, Gregg Thomas, is hiding somewhere, we believe, in the streets of Baltimore. And that's what I'm calling him. Gregg Thomas is a coward," City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.
Batts delivered a stern message.
"It may be better you turn yourself in, whether you need to contact your attorney, contact a news reporter, turn yourself in to a local police department or police station right away," Batts said.
Thomas took the police commissioner's advice, but not before speaking exclusively to WJZ just moments before turning himself in Sunday evening.
Ritchie: "Why did you finally make the decision?"
Thomas: "Because I ain't do nothing. I mean I'm not going to run away from nothing. I'm here right now. I'm just going to turn myself in, decide what happens in court or whatever."
Now the family of Thomas is coming to his defense.
"I don't mind doing anything I can to bring my son to justice," his father said.
Thomas is charged with first- and second-degree attempted murder. Police say Friday night he gunned down Sgt. Mcneill as he sat in his car on North Avenue and Belair Road. Police say Thomas was identified by witnesses in a photo lineup.
Thomas' father says that's not enough.
"I don't believe my son had anything to do with this," he said.
Police have not said what Sgt. Mcneill was doing in his car at the time of the shooting, only saying he was off duty, not in uniform and running errands.
Thomas says he was released from prison early last summer on good behavior.
"I got two daughters that I really love. And I promised them I wouldn't go back to jail. I just came home," Thomas said.
He was serving a murder sentence.
"I was in Patuxent Institution Program. They helped me change my life, and I was really trying to change my life. It's been a rough year. I lost my job at night. I was trying to do the right thing. I ain't shoot nobody. I ain't shoot nobody," Thomas said.
As Thomas walked toward police headquarters, WJZ flagged down officers who quickly arrested him.
Sgt. Mcneill was shot several times in the torso and taken to Shock Trauma, where he remains in critical condition.
The motive for the violent attack is still unclear.
The police commissioner calls the arrest of the man he dubbed Public Enemy No. 1 a victory.
"One less suspect, one less killer on the streets of Baltimore," Batts said.
Thomas' family says let the justice system do its job.
"The law states that he is innocent until proven guilty," Thomas' father said.
Thomas was not the only person taken into custody Sunday night. His sister and mother have also been taken into custody by city police on outstanding drug warrants.
The commissioner says the family of Sgt. Mcneill has been informed of the arrest and thanks everyone for their prayers and support.
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