Arrest announced in D.C. police officer’s cold case killing in Baltimore

For seven years, the killing of D.C. police Sgt. Tony Mason Jr. had been a mystery. Mason was sitting in his car in Baltimore while on a date when two men pulled up and fired at the off-duty officer — violence that investigators initially believed to be motivated by a domestic dispute.

But new details emerged in the case this week alleging that Mason was fatally shot after he had the misfortune of parking his black Nissan Versa in the middle of a drug gang turf. The 17-year-veteran of the police department, who was not armed or wearing any clothing that identified him as a police officer at the time, was mistakenly targeted by assailants who believed he was part of a rival crew, according to police and court documents.

Fresh developments in the cold case were revealed after Baltimore authorities announced a murder charge against Dion Thompson, a 24-year-old man in federal prison in New Jersey following his conviction for drug distribution.

“For far too long, the details surrounding Sergeant Mason’s tragic death have remained a painful mystery,” D.C. Police Chief Pamela A. Smith said Wednesday at a news conference in Baltimore, joining that city’s police commissioner, state’s attorney, federal authorities and others. “While we cannot erase the pain of loss or the memories of that day, we can take solace in the fact that the person responsible is being brought to justice.”

Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates said Thompson will be prosecuted by his office’s new cold case unit, which is devoting attorneys to help police solve old cases that produced few initial leads.

“A cold case is still very much fresh in the hearts and minds of the victim’s family,” Bates said. “It is critically important that we utilize the latest investigative techniques and technology to put fresh eyes on once-forgotten crimes.”

In addition to first-degree murder, Bates said, Thompson has been charged with numerous other counts involving illegal firearms, conspiracy and assault. Prosecutors said they are working to get Thompson arraigned on the charges in Baltimore. It could not be determined if he has an attorney in the murder case.

Police said in the charging documents distributed by prosecutors that detectives found no evidence of domestic issues with either Mason or his girlfriend, and that neither had been involved in any criminal activity.

Efforts to reach Mason’s family after he died in 2017 and this week were not successful. The 40-year-old had worked in some of the District’s highest-crime neighborhoods, and he lived in Baltimore, where in 2017 more than 300 people were killed in homicides.

After his death, Mason’s colleagues recalled an officer who mentored young colleagues, was the “life of the party” at poker nights and made efforts to collect blankets for those in need. His onetime partner said he taught her the street lingo when they rode together in a drug unit in D.C., and how he saved her in 2008 when a man pulled a gun on her while they were undercover.

At the time he was killed, Mason had been on desk duty after being accused of pointing a gun at a subordinate.

Court documents describe Thompson as the leader of the Slickest Ones gang, whose territory Mason was in when he was fatally shot on Nov. 4, 2017.

The court documents say Mason and the woman he was with that night had been dating for about one month. He picked her up the night of Nov. 3 and went shopping at a Walmart just outside Baltimore, then went to a liquor store before returning to her home around 12:20 a.m. on Nov. 4. She unloaded the purchases, and he moved his car from the townhouse parking lot to Elgin Avenue on the city’s west side near Mondawmin Mall. She then joined him in the vehicle, and they began listening to music and drinking.

At the same time, the court documents say, Thompson was visiting a residence on the same street. As he left, he spotted Mason’s Nissan and got worried, the documents say. He called for two others in the residence to meet him with guns, the documents say.

The person who provided the tip that led to the arrest told detectives that Thompson thought the occupants of the Nissan were waiting “either to rob him or retaliate against him for all the robberies he was committing.”

The court documents say Thompson and two other men got into a vehicle and pulled up next to the Nissan.

One man on the street yelled “Yo” or “Hey Ya’ll” and, along with another man, started shooting with no warning, the documents said.

Mason was killed; the woman was struck in the leg and survived.

After the shooting, charging documents say, Thompson went to his brother to get additional bullets for his now-empty gun. The brother, according to court documents, told him “he was tired of (Thompson) wasting bullets as he hadn’t killed anyone yet.”

“I got one tonight dummy,” Thompson allegedly replied. “Watch the news.”

Thompson was arrested during a 2018 vehicle stop in suburban Baltimore in a separate case, where police said they found, a .40 caliber handgun, digital scale and cash, according to court documents.

Prosecutors also said they found a phone they allege Thompson used “to coordinate the sale of narcotics to a variety of drug customers.” Court documents say authorities also raided a residence related to Thompson in the Baltimore area and found three kilograms of fentanyl, cocaine and marijuana, another firearm and more than $10,000 in cash.

In 2021, Thompson pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore to distributing fentanyl and illegal gun possession and was later sentenced to eight years. Prison records said he is due to be released in the drug case in January 2026.

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