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Baltimore Co. police: Officer shot, killed while serving warrant

A Baltimore County police officer was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire early Wednesday while serving a search warrant at a Catonsville home, police said.

Jason Schneider

Police Officer First Class Jason Schneider. (AP Photo/Baltimore County Police Department)

Officer Jason Schneider, 36, was pronounced dead at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center.

Late Wednesday, police said the man suspected of shooting Schneider, 25-year-old Tevon Smith of Catonsville, died at Shock Trauma.

A preliminary investigation showed that Schneider’s vest stopped several rounds, but one round traveled underneath his vest, striking him in the back.

Schneider was part of a team of tactical officers whose duties include serving high-risk warrants. They were delivering a warrant for a non-fatal shooting a week earlier, said Police Chief James Johnson. People inside tried to flee as soon as the officers entered, and Schneider was shot several times as he turned a corner, returning fire as he fell and striking a man, the chief said.

“While in the structure, searching room-to-room, their presence was clearly known. We know the suspects clearly knew that we were police officers,” Johnson said.

Police didn’t immediately release the name of the suspected shooter and no charges had been filed. Everyone who was in the house was taken into custody for questioning, police said.

Another officer who fired shots will be placed on administrative leave, which is routine in such cases.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ordered flags flown at half-staff.

“I can only tell you that we don’t always appreciate what our police do for us every day, but it’s times like this when we know how grateful we are for their bravery and for their sacrifice,” Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz told reporters.

Schneider, a 13-year-veteran of the force and son of a retired Baltimore city police officer, was for the last decade a member of the department’s tactical unit. He leaves behind his wife and two children. Funeral arrangements were pending late Wednesday.

“He was extraordinarily experienced, a leader within that unit,” Johnson said. “This is a terrible loss for Baltimore County. His noble work is greatly appreciated.”

Schneider is the ninth county officer to die on duty. Johnson said it was “remarkable” that so few county police officers have been killed given the violent crimes they respond to.

“Even today, the best equipment, the best training, the best planning, the best execution of the detail, the round makes its way through and takes the life of this very brave man,” Johnson said.

His voice cracked as he described his feelings about the shooting, saying “these things hurt terribly” — especially in a close-knit unit like the tactical squad.

“Can you imagine what he did in 10 years in tactical, how many hundreds of these things he’s done — and this one damn incident unfolds like this?” Johnson said.