A Bellaire police officer and an innocent bystander were shot and killed by a suspect in a southwest Houston parking lot Monday, officials said.
Investigators said Cpl. Jimmie Norman, 53, was chasing the suspect, Harlem Harold Lewis, 21, when they drove into the parking lot of a Maaco body shop at 5611 Bellaire Blvd. at Alder at 8:55 a.m. Witnesses said Lewis got out of his vehicle and began firing shots.
"The guy stands up out the car and just starts shooting. The gunshots continued even as I ran off. After the first 10, I was thinking, 'What kind of gun does this guy have?'" witness Stephanie Pacheco said.
Another witness, Selvin Romero said Lewis side-swiped his pickup truck. He said he followed Lewis into the driveway of the body shop.
He said he saw Norman, a 24-year-veteran of the force, approach Lewis' car in an effort to get him to surrender. But within seconds, police said the Lewis pulled a gun and opened fire on the married father of two.
"He started shooting the officer, and then he started shooting the owner of the body shop," said Romero.
The owner of the body shop, Terry Taylor, who loved ones said walked out of his shop to help the officer, was fatally shot in the head by Lewis at close range. Police said he died instantly.
Family members said Taylor was a retired army vet, a married father and a new grandfather.
Norman was taken to Ben Taub Hospital, where he died a short time later. He did not exchange gunfire with the suspect, HPD said.
"The saddest thing is that (Officer Norman) didn't even get an opportunity to pull his weapon and defend himself. That's how fast it all happened," said John Cannon with the Houston Police Department.
"The police officer is inside the door. He got hit first. You see him hit the ground on his back. The guy gets out the car and just starts shooting and we hit the ground," Pacheco said.
Houston police said Lewis fired at responding Bellaire police officers.
"They hear gunshots and they see the suspect standing near their fallen officer and they exchange gunfire with the suspect," Cannon said.
Lewis was wounded and ran off, but was found behind a nearby business. Investigators said a gun was recovered from the scene.
Lewis was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital in critical but stable condition. Doctors said he is expected to survive. Charges of capital murder of a police officer and murder are pending.
No other officers were wounded.
"He pretty much at close-bank range murdered a Bellaire police officer and murdered an innocent bystander who emerged from the shop," Cannon said.
Trust Fund for Cpl. Norman's family:
Donations can be made at Prosperity Bank
5123 Bellaire Blvd.
For the "Jimmie Norman Trust Fund"
Community activist Quanell X visited Lewis in the hospital. He said he's known Lewis for years, and said he's had behavioral issues and his family was concerned about his drug use. He said the suspect's family is devastated by the news.
"The family wants to extend their deepest, deepest sympathy to the victim's family. The family is absolutely heartbroken about what their son is accused of," Quanell X said.
"Jimmie had a police mind and a big heart. His heart was as big as anybody I ever worked with. He was always thinking about things that would better the department, better the city, better the working conditions of officers and the way we could serve the citizens of Bellaire," Bellaire Police Chief Byron Holloway said. "Words can't express what the men and women of the Bellaire Police Department are feeling today."
Cpl. Norman was the first Bellaire police officer to be killed in the line of duty.
"He was someone that you would want as your neighbor," Holloway said.
The suspect has been charged with capital murder.