Police Sergeant Killed In Running Gunbattle After Responding To Robbery In Brainerd; 2nd Officer Hit

Robber Was Reportedly Violent Escape Artist Who Fled Colorado Prison; Was Wearing Kevlar Vest

Saturday, April 2, 2011
Sgt. Tim Chapin
Sgt. Tim Chapin

Veteran Chattanooga police sergeant Tim Chapin, 51, was killed while responding to a robbery at a pawn shop in Brainerd on Saturday morning. He had almost 27 years of service with the Chattanooga Police Department and was the father of two.

A second city police officer, Lorin Johnston, was shot, but the bullet deflected off the vest he was wearing, sources said. Officer Johnston in 2007 was the Exchange Club's Officer of the Year after he donated a kidney to a fellow officer with kidney disease.

The robber, who is a parolee from Colorado, was wounded during the gunfire and was taken to Erlanger Hospital. He was under heavy guard.

Sources said the robber was wearing a Kevlar bullet-proof vest during the shootout, which protected him from numerous bullets fired at him by half a dozen officers who had hurried to the robbery scene in Brainerd.

However, one shot was outside the vest area and has left him in a coma, sources said.

The officer who was killed was shot in the head when confronting the robber during the running gunbattle.

The sergeant was among officers responding to a robbery at the U.S. Money Shops near Big Lots. The location is behind the Rib and Loin Restaurant in the 5900 block of Brainerd Road.

The robber fired at the arriving officers when they caught him inside the store. The officers then retreated to their vehicles.

The robber emerged from the store and began firing at officers who were pursuing him in patrol cars and on foot. There were some six officers at the scene by that time.

Sgt. Chapin was hit by a bullet as he continued the pursuit near East Brainerd Road.

An employee of the Rib and Loin said shots were fired around 10:30 a.m. Employees of Big Lots also told of hearing gunshots.

A host of police officers quickly converged on the scene, including city officers and those from the sheriff's department.

A wide area was taped off ranging from near the South Chickamauga Creek bridge to beyond East Brainerd Road.

The officers who were involved in the shooting will all be on administrative leave per department policy. The sheriff's department will help in coverage while the officers are away from duty.

The probe of the incident will be carried out jointly by the city police, the sheriff's office, the TBI and the district attorney's office.

Chief Bobby Dodd said, "It's like losing a member of your family."

Mayor Ron Littlefield, who took part in an early afternoon news conference at the scene, expressed sorrow for the officer's family and asked for prayers for them and for his fellow officers.

County Commissioner Greg Beck, who was also at the scene, said, "I am so saddened for the officers family and for his fellow officers. We need to pull ourselves together and support our officers in these dangerous times. Every day they are laying their lives on the line for us."

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, “We in Hamilton County government also mourn the death of Sgt. Tim Chapin Saturday morning in the line of duty. Sgt. Chapin’s regrettable murder is a grim reminder of the dangers first responders’ face every day they put on their uniforms and pin on their badges to protect and serve the public. On a personal note, Tim has been a friend for years. My thoughts and prayers are with Tim’s family and his fellow officers.”

The last Chattanooga Police officer killed in the line of duty was Julie Jacks in 2002.

Police spokesperson Jerri Weary released this statement shortly after noon, "Chattanooga Police are currently on the scene at 5900 Brainerd Road where an officer has been shot and killed.

"Police responded to U.S Money Shops next to Big Lots on a robbery from business call around 10:30 this morning. Immediately when officers arrived, they encountered one male suspect who began firing at police. A gun battle and foot pursuit ensued and at least one officer was shot and killed during the gun fight.

"The suspect was shot at least once and has been taken to a local hospital where he is being treated. This is all preliminary information."

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