Essex, MD – A Baltimore County school resource officer shot himself while at work at Eastern Technical High School on Monday.
The Baltimore Sun reported that there is video that showed Baltimore County Officer Joseph Comegna went into his office by himself at about noon on Monday, but didn’t come back out.
“Our investigation has revealed, according to the video cameras that are inside the school, that officer entered that office alone," Baltimore County Public Information Officer Jennifer Peach told reporters at a press briefing early Monday evening.
"There was no one else in the office at the time the gunshot occurred. Preliminarily we believe that it is a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” she added.
Faculty nearby heard a sound from the school resource officer’s basement office at about 12:20 p.m., and went to investigate, Officer Peach said.
They found Officer Comegna in his office suffering from a gunshot wound, and contacted the police.
The school went into lockdown, and students and faculty sheltered in place while Baltimore County police responded to the high school, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Responding officers found Officer Comegna in his office suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his upper body.
“There was only one gun found at the scene, so at this point, we believe it was his service weapon that was used,” Officer Peach said.
She said Officer Comegna, a 21-year veteran of the police department, was transported to MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
No students or staff were injured, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Class was in session at the time and police do not believe anyone else witnessed the shooting, Officer Peach said.
She said that although Officer Comegna was wearing a bodycam at the time of the incident, police do not think it was turned on when the officer allegedly shot himself.
Officer Comegna had been a school resource officer in Baltimore County for 12 years.
He has been assigned to Eastern Technical High School for the past four years, Officer Peach said.
The fallen officer was also a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America and a lacrosse coach, according to a recent feature on him in a school resource officer “how to” guide by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
“My whole family are police officers - my two younger brothers, my dad and my uncle. I wanted to serve my community, help people out,” Officer Comegna told the foundation in an interview.
As a school resource officer, he was best known for working closely with the teachers at the high school to incorporate anti-drug education into the already-existing curriculum.
“Because I know they have a drug unit in the health class, the teacher and I teamed up,” Officer Comegna explained. “I went to him and said, ‘Look, this is probably the most logical place to put this.’”
He said he researched which drugs were most accessible at the school, and crafted a curriculum that addressed them in order of popularity.
“I change it every year to stay up with current trends in our community. It is an ambitious program,” Officer Comegna said.
After-school and evening activities were cancelled on the Eastern Technical High School campus on Monday, although classes remained in session til the usual dismissal time.
The interim superintendent for the school district tweeted that she would have counselors on hand at the school to help grieving students and faculty on Tuesday.
Police will investigate the circumstances in Officer Comegna’s life to attempt to determine a motive in the shooting, Officer Peach said.