HOUSTON— Two families are mourning the loss of loved ones this Christmas Eve after a Bellaire police officer and a local businessman were gunned down Monday morning following a chase in southwest Houston.
Bellaire police officer Cpl. Jimmie Norman, 53, died from gunshot wounds late Monday morning at Ben Taub Hospital, while Terry Taylor, owner of a Maaco shop died at the scene after being hit by stray bullets from the shooting.
The shooting was reported just before 9 a.m. outside Taylor’s Maaco shop in the 5600 block of Bellaire Boulevard, according to the Houston Police Department. There are two parallel investigations into the shooting with HPD handling the criminal side and Bellaire police handling the internal side.
Norman, a 24-year veteran of the police force, leaves behind a wife and two adult children. One of his children also works at the Bellaire Police Department as a communications officer, according to Bellaire Police Chief Byron Holloway. Norman is the first Bellaire officer killed in the line of duty.
“We’re devastated,” Holloway said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “Jimmie had a police mind and a big heart.”
Norman was named the top police officer by the Optimist Club of Bellaire last year and was recognized by the FBI in 2010 for helping stop a string of bank robberies.
Views from Air 11 showed at least a dozen bullet casing markers in the parking lot of the Maaco auto and body shop.
Police said the shooter, identified as Harlem Harold Lewis, 21, was subsequently shot by officers arriving at the scene. He was shot twice and is in critical condition. They said the Lewis tried to hide at a neighboring business, but was soon taken into custody.
“You get tired of seeing this,” witness Stephanie Pacheco told KHOU 11 News. “You get tired of seeing innocent people die.”
She said she saw the chase as it came to an end. The first vehicle was the suspect’s Honda, the second was a white pickup, and the third was Norman’s patrol vehicle. Later on Monday, KHOU 11 News confirmed that the Honda belonged to Lewis’ girlfriend who was unaware of what had transpired Monday morning.
The truck and Norman followed the Honda into the Maaco shop’s parking lot. When it was clear they could go no further, Pacheco said Norman left his vehicle to approach the Honda.
“He is in the car trying to pull the guy out of the car,” Pacheco said. “And I’m wondering ‘why are you trying to pull this guy out of the car and you’re by yourself?’”
That is when she said several shots were fired. An HPD spokesman said Norman never had a chance to return fire.
“These people had families,” Pacheco said. “This is the day before Christmas, for crying out loud, and you know it just doesn’t make any sense that things have gone to pot like it is now.”
Slavin Romero, the driver of the truck, said the chase began after Lewis hit his truck. He said Lewis took off which is why both he and Norman followed Lewis.
Bellaire PD has set up a memorial fund for Norman at Prosperity Bank, 5123 Bellaire Blvd.