Raw interview: Amateur photographer describes downtown SWAT shootout


by khou.com staff


Posted on May 9, 2011 at 6:52 PM

HOUSTON -- A 27-year-old bystander says he was just driving home on Saturday when he got caught in the middle of a shootout that injured two HPD officers in downtown Houston.

Chris Ashby says he was terrified.

"We were just caught in a tornado of action, it was really right around us, we couldn’t go anywhere," Ashby said.

Ashby, not knowing what he had driven into, did what any normal person would do in his situation. He started recording it with his cell phone.

"Suddenly what sounds like a cannon, literally a cannon goes off and it shook me to the bone, it immediately jarred me, I was terrified," Ashby said.

Police said that cannon-like sound was a shootout involving Jesse Brown, a man wanted in San Francisco for a triple shooting on Halloween of 2010.

Police said HPD Officer Fernando Meza was trying to question Brown at the downtown Houston bus station after a screener spotted a gun in his bag.

Officer Meza, a two-year veteran of the force, followed Brown outside, demanded his bag, then used a Taser in a failed effort to subdue him, HPD spokesman John Cannon said. Instead, Brown opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun, striking Meza in the hand.

Brown darted across the street to a McDonald’s restaurant where he encountered Officer Timothy Moore, who was responding to a report of an officer in distress. His first gun was empty so Brown pulled another gun from his bag and fired at the 12-year police force veteran, wounding him in the leg, Cannon said.

Brown fled two blocks to the Amegy Bank parking garage, beside Interstate 45, and exchanged gunfire with arriving SWAT officers as he darted inside, Cannon said. He was later found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at 7:05 p.m., police said.

Meanwhile, Ashby didn’t see the gunman, but he did lay eyes on something else.

"What really scared me the most to be honest with you was the fear on the police officers’ faces," Ashby said. "All the cops were just shaking and jumping around and they were looking around like where is he and I think they all really thought they would get shot."

Ashby tried capturing the scene on video, but he was eventually told by police to drive away.

"I don’t think they had any idea that we were right there with ‘em until he looks and sees us and says, ‘go get out of here, what are you doing?’" said Ashby.

The Ashby and his friend got out of the chaos, though the 27-year-old admitted he had trouble sleeping that night.

As for the two wounded officers, they were treated and have been released from the hospital.