A D.C. police detective was shot and killed Friday by his wife, who then fatally shot herself, according to law enforcement officials.

Timothy Eugene Francis, 50, had been a District police officer for 20 years and was most recently a detective in the homicide squad that investigates presumed natural deaths, according to D.C. police.

Francis and his wife, Christina Lynn Francis, 41, were found dead about 6 p.m. in their home in the 3300 block of Marylea Court in Waldorf, Md., Charles County sheriff’s officials said.

A family member discovered the couple dead in their house, sheriff’s officials said. Investigators recovered evidence indicating that Francis shot her husband and then herself, a news release said.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham expressed sadness in a statement Saturday.

“Mourning the tragic loss of our colleague and friend is extremely difficult,” Newsham said. “Detective Francis spent two decades protecting the community from violence, and to learn that he was the victim of a homicide is heartbreaking.”

Greggory Pemberton, the chairman of the D.C. Police Union, spent years as Francis’s partner, he said Saturday.

“He was one of the best detectives I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Pemberton said in an email. “His father was also a detective that worked nearly 45 years for MPD. Tim was a stand up guy that always held his ground. We are all still reeling from this news.”

Justin Dillon, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Francis from 2009 through 2013, described him as a detective who could both get practically anyone to talk, even in some of the most challenging crimes.

Dillon recalled a case in which a gunman opened fire on a basketball court, striking several bystanders. Francis was then a detective in the 7th District, one of the city’s most violent areas.

Partnered with Pemberton, Dillon said, Francis persuaded a young man who had escaped the neighborhood and was in college on a scholarship to tell them what he saw. He had been home on a break and witnessed the shooting.

“That is not easy in certain parts of the city,” Dillon said, noting the suspect pleaded guilty in large part because Francis found so many people “who said he did it.”

“He was smart, he worked hard, and he had a soft touch,” said Dillon, who is now in private practice. “He could get the young guy or the old lady from the neighborhood to talk to him, and he could wrap it all up in a neat package for a prosecutor.”

Dillon said in places where “nobody wants to talk, everybody trusted him.”

It has been a difficult year for D.C. police. In June, Officer Keith Darnell Williams Sr. died after being hospitalized with covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

In April, the department mourned two veteran members of the force, sergeants Donna Allen and Mark Eckenrode, who died within days of each other. Though neither of the deaths was attributed to the coronavirus, they stunned a department battling crime amid the pandemic.

Keith L. Alexander contributed to this report.