Suspect charged in fatal shooting of officer

December 9, 2008 4:09:27 AM PST
A Houston police officer was shot during a traffic stop Sunday morning and later died. And now, police have filed capital murder charges against a suspect.[DONATIONS: The 100 Club is taking donation to help the officer's family]

Mabry J. Landor, 28, was in jail without bond after being accused of killing veteran HPD Officer Timothy Abernethy on Sunday morning.

Police say Abernathy pulled Landor over in a parking lot at the Luxor Park apartments in northwest Houston around 8:30am Sunday. Investigators say Landor fled into the complex on foot and hid. Abernathy gave chase.

"The suspect apparently waited, crouching, waiting for the officer, and fired multiple times, striking the officer," said Captain Bruce Williams with the Houston Police Department.

Detectives say Abernathy was shot in the head. One eyewitness tells us Landor then calmly returned to his vehicle and drove off. That eyewitness found Abernathy on the ground and called 911.

"She said put a cold towel on the bleeding part and that's what I did," said neighbor Willie Fleming. "Then a young lady came and took his pulse. There was no pulse. There was no anything from him. I was at his body within 20 secoinds after the shot."

Abernathy's gun was by his side. He never got a chance to shoot back.

Before the shooting, police say Abernathy entered the license plate number on the vehicle Landor was driving into his police computer. DPS and the Harris County sheriff's office then went to the house where that vehicle is registered.

They found the vehicle in northwest Harris County in the 3200 block of Hombly and detained Landor.

"At some point in time, the suspect apparently changed clothes," said Williams.

Monday morning, capital murder charges were filed against Landor in Abernathy's murder.

"It makes me sad that it was one of our officers that protects us, you know," said neighbor Marie Steele.

Those who live near the scene say they hear gunfire often. Just last month, a man was killed in this very same apartment complex, police say in an unrelated incident, just feet from where the officer was murdered Sunday. Steele offers condolences.

"My heart goes out to the family of the officer involved," she said. "I speak blessings in their life and I pray that God will give them understanding."

But understanding may be fleeting no matter how many prayers are offered.

Abernathy, an 11-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, was taken to Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital, where he died. He's survived by his wife and two children.

Landor has a history of crime, dating back 10 years.

11/2007 - DWI, 3rd offense - 2 years TDC
08/2006 - Drug Possession - 2 years TDC
12/2005 - Assault - 333 days County Jail
08/2003 - Assault on a family member - 35 days county jail
08/2003 - DWI, 2nd offense - 10 days county jail
04/2003 - Drug Possession - 30 days county jail
02/2003 - Resisting arrest - 50 days county jail
08/2002 - Failure to stop & render aid - 10 months county jail
12/1999 - Drug possession - 90 days county jail
12/1998 - DWI - 180 days county jail

Over the last two years, two HPD officers have been killed on the job. Back in June, Officer Gary Gryder died after investigators say he was run over by an out-of-control driver.

And back in 2006, Officer Rodney Johnson was shot to death during a traffic stop. The man convicted of killing him, Juan Quintero, was sentenced to life in prison.

Johnson's widow says yesterday's shooting brought back painful memories of her husband's death. She was at the hospital give her support to the officer's family and colleagues.

"Somebody needs to do something. I hope this will wake the city's eyes up and show them how many more of us need to die before something is done," she said. "We need two-man units on the streets at all times, especially when you're riding by yourself on traffic. There's no reason for this."

Mayor White says there's no evidence pairing officers would prevent incidents like Sunday's shooting. He adds HPD is aggressively recruiting more officers.

His funeral will take place at champion Forest Baptist Church at 11am. The funeral is open to the public.

The 100 Club is accepting donations for its "Survivor's Fund," which provides benefits to the dependents of peace officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty. A $10,000 check will be given to Officer Abernethy's family to assist with any needs they may have.

If you wish to help, contributions may be made at www.the100club.org, or mailed to 100 Club Survivor's Fund, 1233 West Loop South, Suite 1250, Houston, TX 77027-9107. One-hundred percent of "Survivor's Fund" donations go to the dependents of law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

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