Agent Michael Joseph Cowdery, Jr.

Fallen HeroAgent Michael Joseph Cowdery, Jr.



On this day in Baltimore Police History, March 12, 2001, we lost our Brother, Police Agent Michael Joseph Cowdery, Jr., to gunfire based on the following:

A gunman who killed Baltimore Police Agent Michael J. Cowdery Jr. last week first shot the officer in the leg and then grabbed him and shot him in the head as he lay disabled on the sidewalk, according to documents filed in Baltimore courts on March 21, 2001. The shooting that took place on March 12 of this year, in which Agent Michael J. Cowdery Jr., 31, was shot in the 2300 block of Harford Road, according to court documents, happened so quickly that by the time one of his partners shouted "Gun," it was too late to react.

Charging documents filed in District Court refer to this killing by saying that Officer Cowdery, while wearing plainclothes, had his badge around his neck and was visible. He lay wounded on the street, and the shooter stood over him, grabbed him by his collar, and shot him again. That shot was "in the head, at close range." The suspect, Howard T. Whitworth, 26, was later shot and wounded during an ensuing gun battle between him and two Baltimore police officers. He was released from Maryland Shock Trauma Medical Center to the city’s Detention Center on March 19, 2001, and yesterday, March 20, 2001, he made his first court appearance. During that appearance, he was represented by his court-appointed lawyer, Assistant Public Defender John P. Markus. Markus waived the bail hearing. Whitworth was ordered back to the Detention Center, where he awaited an indictment in Circuit Court, which is the usual procedure and would have happened within the following month. Markus could not be reached for comment yesterday (written in 2001). His client, with no permanent address, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, reckless endangerment, using a handgun in the commission of a felony, and possession of a handgun within city limits. Whitworth was facing the death penalty. The Police Commissioner at the time was Edward T. Norris, and he was quoted in an in an ad saying, "He plans to discuss that issue with the state's attorney's office.". The charging documents filed on the 21st day of March 2001 provided details but did not offer a solid motive. Even the surrender of a key witness, William A. "Mookie" Houston, 20, who was sought for several days before turning himself in to be questioned, proved to be of no help. Houston was released.

On March 21, 2001, Norris said, “Interviews with witnesses “haven't” shed any light on the motive in this case." Police said they believe Officer Cowdery may have entered an open-air drug market and was mistaken for a rival dealer that had been harassing the crew. It was said that the suspect had recently purchased a.357 Magnum handgun because he had been held up in the area.

Police say when he was arrested, Whitworth had 40 vials of crack cocaine on him. While police say they are not sure if Whitworth knew Officer Cowdery was an officer, the badge around his neck was "visible and obvious.". Agent Cowdery and three of his colleagues—also in plainclothes with their badges around their necks—had stopped to question two men outside a carryout on Harford Road about 10:15 p.m. Officers Robert L. Jackson and Ronald A. Beverly chatted with the two people as Cowdery talked with a woman leaving the carryout. Police said a gunman turned the corner at Cliftview Avenue and ran up to the officers, whose back was turned to him, He pulled a gun on the officer and shot him, The gun was determined to be the .357 Magnum mentioned earlier in this report

The court documents said Officer Tiffany D. Walker saw the gunman approach and yelled, "Gun," just as the man drew and opened fire, hitting Cowdery. The second shot was fired as Whitworth grabbed officer Cowdery's shirt, pulled him from the ground and fired the second shot directly into his head, That shot was fired a split- second after the first. As Walker ducked into a carryout and hid on the floor behind a counter, Officers Jackson and Beverly “moved to other areas of cover" and exchanged fire with Whitworth. Officer Beverly was struck in the leg and ankle but still managed to return fire and hit the gunman, said a police spokesman. A viewing for Agent Michael J. Cowdery Jr. was held at Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Home, 4905 York Road, and Mass was held at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5300 N. Charles St. The procession to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium was traveled from the cathedral north on Charles Street, west on Northern Parkway, north on Interstate 83 and east on Padonia Road. The route closed roads from noon to 2 p.m.

The suspect was convicted of Agent Cowdery's murder and sentenced to life in prison. Agent Cowdery's parents, sister, and son are still alive. He had worked for the Baltimore City Police Department for four and a half years.

We, his brothers and sisters of the Baltimore Police Department, will not let him be forgotten. God bless you and rest in Peace.


More details

End of Watch 12 March 2001
City, St. 2300 Block of Harford Road
Panel Number 21-E: 22
Cause of Death Gunfire
District Worked Eastern

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