Updated: Montgomery County Officer Shot Monday Has Died
Department treating it as homicide, but 'all options,' including suicide, are possible
Montgomery County police responded to Silver Spring on Monday morning after an officer was shot.
This story was updated at 8:05 p.m. Oct. 14, 2019, to reflect the latest on the police investigation.
A 13-year veteran of the Montgomery County police department died in downtown Silver Spring on Monday morning after a shooting.
Police said during an afternoon press conference that they are considering the case a homicide until they reach a final conclusion, but there were no witnesses or suspects. Until then, “all options,” including suicide, are possible, Acting Police Chief Marcus Jones said in an interview Monday evening.
The officer who died was Thomas J. “T.J” Bomba, according to police. Bomba, 38, was married with two children.
At 8:49 a.m., Bomba radioed for backup as he investigated a report of disorderly conduct on the top floor of a parking garage at Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive, Jones said during the news conference.
Bomba did not make any other calls on his radio. Other officers found him about four minutes later with a gunshot wound, Jones said during the press conference.
Bomba was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he died.
“We continue to investigate and we will do everything in our power to ascertain what transpired this morning,” Jones said. He said Monday evening that an autopsy by the D.C. medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death had not been done yet.
He said police do not believe there is any threat to the public, but “if facts present themselves that give us the belief there is some danger to public safety, we will update the public immediately.”
Additional police had been assigned to patrol the area of the shooting and “a large number of resources” remained at the scene Monday afternoon, Jones said.
Silver Spring International Middle School, East Silver Spring Elementary School and Sligo Creek Elementary School, all near the shooting site, were “sheltering in place” on Monday morning after the shooting, meaning all exterior doors were locked while regular instruction continued, according to MCPS spokesman Derek Turner. Open houses for parents were continuing as normal, but additional police were present.
The shelter in place order was lifted in the early afternoon.
Jones urged anyone who witnessed “disorderly behavior” in the area or who interacted with Bomba on Monday morning to call the police department’s non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.
“This reminds us of the risks officers take every day and we should all keep them and their family in our thoughts and prayers,” said Council Member Tom Hucker, who represents Silver Spring.
Bomba was wearing a body camera. Asked at 7 p.m. if there was body-camera footage and if police had reviewed it, Jones said, “We’re still working on that.”
Jones said he was not aware of any surveillance cameras on the top floor of the garage, but police were asking nearby businesses for any surveillance footage they might have.
It was not immediately clear if Bomba’s service weapon had been fired.
In 2009, Bomba was hospitalized with a serious infection that almost killed him, according to a web page his family posted to provide updates. When his organs shut down, a hospital chaplain was called in to give last rites, the web page said. However, Bomba recovered.
On the site, his family documented his recovery over the next year.
The last Montgomery County police officer to die after being shot on duty was Kyle Olinger. He died on April 18 — 16 years after he was shot. His death was ruled a homicide.
Olinger was wounded in a 2003 shooting during a traffic stop in Silver Spring. He was paralyzed and used a wheelchair after the shooting.
In 2015, Montgomery County police officer Noah Leotta was killed on duty while conducting a traffic stop during a drunk-driving enforcement effort. A drunk driver struck Leotta and his cruiser. Leotta died seven days later.
Managing Editor Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org