At approximately 5:08 pm on Thursday, March 23, 2006, off-duty 39-year-old Sergeant Gerard W. Burke Jr., a 16-year-veteran with the Metropolitan Police Department's Third District, was operating his private vehicle southbound on 11th Street, NW. While in the 2800 block of 11th Street, NW, Sergeant Burke was utilizing his cell phone to contact Police Communications and check on a suspected stolen Honda being operated in front of him by a young teenager.
It was at this time that Sergeant Burke suffered an apparent medical emergency, and his vehicle crashed into other cars before coming to a stop. Sergeant Burke was taken to the Washington Hospital Center's MedStar Unit and pronounced dead. The driver of one of the vehicles struck by Sergeant Burke's vehicle was also taken to the Washington Hospital Center and treated and released.
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The autopsy conducted by the DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner indicates that the initial cause of death was due to a ruptured aorta and not the traffic accident. Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey has ruled Sergeant Burke's death to be in the performance of duty.
It was later determined that the Honda had been stolen that same day from the 3600 block of New Hampshire Avenue, NW. The vehicle was recovered at approximately 1:22 am, on Friday, March 24, in the 1300 block of Spring Road, NW.