This story was updated at 11:19 a.m. April 30, 2013.
An off-duty Bladensburg police officer who crashed his cruiser into oncoming traffic Saturday in Pasadena committed suicide, according to Anne Arundel County police.
Anne Arundel police first said he died from crashing his vehicle, but an autopsy with the chief medical examiner determined the officer shot himself while driving, police said.
Brian Johnson, 38, of Pasadena was traveling east on Md. 100 near Catherine Avenue around 9 a.m. Saturday when he shot himself in the upper body and his vehicle crossed the median and struck another vehicle traveling west, police said.
Johnson was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the oncoming vehicle was treated on the scene for minor injuries and released, said Justin Mulcahy, an Anne Arundel police spokesman.
“This happened while he was the lone occupant of a moving vehicle,” Mulcahy said. “Obviously, this is a very sensitive issue.”
Mulcahy said Anne Arundel police do not typically publicize suicide information, but said the department had to clarify the officer’s cause of death since initially reporting the crash.
He said Md. 100 was shut down for nearly six hours at the crash site Saturday morning.
Johnson was a nine-year veteran with the Bladensburg police department.
Bladensburg Police Chief Charles Owens said Johnson joined the department as a dispatcher and became a police officer one year later. He said Johnson was an officer first class and handled police investigations for the town. Johnson was heading home after working a night shift in Bladensburg when he took his own life, Owens said.
“Officer Johnson was a dedicated police officer. ... He became a public servant here with the police department and was dedicated to the Bladensburg community,” said Owens, who noted that Johnson grew up in Bladensburg before getting married and moving to Pasadena. “He was a hard-working man.”
Johnson was also a firefighter for the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department for nearly 20 years, according to town officials.
“It is with the deepest of regrets, through heavy hearts and many tears our family has lost a great fireman and [the] Bladensburg Police Dept. has lost a great Police Officer/Detective,” a statement from the fire department said. “We shall forever remember the great times and the many things that you have taught to so many of our firefighters over the years.”
Bladensburg Mayor Walter Lee James Jr. said the town “suffered the loss of a member of our family.”
“He will be truly missed by us all. Officer Brian Johnson served honorably and with passion for the community he loved,” he said.