Bellaire officer, bystander killed in shootout in southwest Houston

December 24, 2012 8:29:08 PM PST
It started as a car chase, but it ended with bullets flying and two families left grieving on Christmas. Police say a Belliare police officer and an innocent bystander became the victims of a shootout in southwest Houston Monday morning.

The officer, 53-year-old Cpl. Jimmie Norman, had planned to spend Christmas morning with his family after a colleague had volunteered to patrol in his place. Now, the officer's family will be spending the day mourning his loss.

"Many of us have worked for years with Officer Norman. We're devastated by this loss. We're devastated to what this has done to his family," Bellaire Police Chief Byron Holloway said. "Words can't express what the men and women of the Bellaire Police Department are feeling today and other people in the community that knew Jimmy."

According to investigators, it started around 8:45am as routine traffic stop. Norman tried to pull over an older-model black Honda heading down on Mapleridge near Jessamine. But the driver fled, sideswiping a white Ford F-150 truck in the process.

Both Norman and the driver of the Ford started chasing the suspect, who quickly sped into the parking lot of a Maaco at Bellaire at Chetwood. Witnesses say Officer Norman got out of his squad car, approached the suspect's vehicle and ordered him to get out.

That's when witnesses say things got even more intense.

"He's tussling with this guy, I'm looking at his feet hanging out of the vehicle, as he's reaching for something, my mind says, this guy has a gun. No sooner than I thought that he started shooting," witness Stephanie Pacheco said.

Investigators say the suspect fired several shots at Norman before he could retrieve his own pistol.

"We were outside taking out a customer's car," said witness Milton Navarette. "He was struggling with him and he was telling him to get out and when he went to reach, all you saw was an arm and a gun, and I'm like, 'Are you serious. You're going to take out a gun on a cop?' And he shot the guy."

Investigators say the suspect then turned the weapon on bystanders. Witnesses say in all, they heard at least 10 gun shots ring out.

When it was all over, Norman, the suspect and the owner of the Maaco store had been shot.

Norman was transported to Ben Taub General Hospital, where police say he died shortly after arriving.

The bystander, who has been identified as Terry Taylor, also was shot and killed after he rushed outside to help. He operated the Bellaire Maaco business for 26 years. Police say Taylor's wife, Judy, was inside the store when he was shot.

As for the suspect, he has been identified as 21-year-old Harlem Harold Lewis. Police say he was shot at least twice by another Bellaire officer before he ran down the street to another business. Police found him hiding between vehicles in a parking lot and discovered a .380 caliber weapon nearby.

Lewis was then taken to Southwest Memorial Hermann Hospital hospital in critical but stable condition. Officials say he is expected to survive and already has been charged with capital murder of a police officer, murder and felony evading in a motor vehicle.

Norman is believed to be the first Bellaire police officer to be killed in an officer-involved shooting, Holloway said. He was a 24-year veteran at the Bellaire Police Department and has received several honors, including recognition from the FBI in 2009 for his role in helping end a string of violent bank robberies. He's married and has two adult children.

"Jimmy had a police mind and a big heart. His heart was as big as anybody I'd worked with. He was always about things that would better the department, better the city, better the working conditions of officers and the way we could better serve the citizens in the city of Bellaire," Holloway said.

Holloway says there will be two parallel investigations into the shooting. The Houston Police Department is handling the criminal probe, while Bellaire police will perform an internal investigation.

Meanwhile, community members did their part on Christmas Eve, stopping by the Bellaire Police Department to remember the slain officer.

"I want his family to know that we as citizens appreciate and care about our public servants and that they put their lives on the line for us," Houston resident Lisa Calzada said.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest details.


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