Police Say Colorado Parolee Jesse Mathews Fired Shot That Killed Sgt. Chapin, Injured Officer Johnston

Mathews Remains Hospitalized As Probe Is Ongoing

Sunday, April 3, 2011
Facebook photo of Jesse Mathews
Facebook photo of Jesse Mathews

The man who fired on Chattanooga Police officers on Saturday morning, killing one and injuring another, is a parolee from Colorado, police said Sunday afternoon.

He was identified as 25-year-old Jesse Mathews.

Mathews remains hospitalized at Erlanger Hospital with undisclosed injuries.

He was convicted of armed robbery in 2003 when he was 18 years old and given a 20-year prison sentence in Colorado. His first parole eligibility date was this March. He is listed as a "fugitive inmate."

On Mathews' Facebook page, he is pictured shirtless with tattoos depicting guns and some brass nuckles. Wording at the top read backwards says backwards "Tools of the trade."

Police said Sgt. Tim Chapin was pursuing Mathews in his patrol car when he was killed. Mathews fired into the Chapin patrol car. The patrol car struck Mathews, but he continued to run. He then shot Sgt. Chapin in the head.

Police said the investigation of the tragic incident at a pawn shop next to Big Lots in Brainerd will be lengthy.

Jerri Weary, police spokesperson, said, "This morning hearts are heavy at the Chattanooga Police Department over the loss of fellow officer, Sergeant James Timothy Chapin. The shootings of Sergeant Chapin and Officer Lorin Johnston came after police were fired upon yesterday by Jesse Mathews, a parolee from Colorado who is also wanted there on robbery warrants. The aftermath of the shootings have produced a large-scale investigation into the events that led up to Sergeant Chapin’s death."

She gave this preliminary timeline of the events that occurred Saturday.

· At 10:24 a.m., Hamilton County 911 received a hold up alarm from U.S. Money Shops at 5952 Brainerd Road and dispatched units to the location.

· At 10:25 a.m., the first officer arrived on the scene. By 10:26 dispatch was advised that officers were under fire and the suspect was still inside the business. Officers returned fire, but the suspect then fled to the rear of the business where he exited from a side door. Once outside, he continued to fire at responding units as they arrived on the scene. The initial responding officers were forced to retreat to their vehicles for cover while others engaged Mathews and pursued him to the back of the business. One of those responding officers to pursue Mathews was Sgt. Chapin. Mathews fired into his patrol car and he was subsequently struck by the car but continued to run. Sgt. Chapin gave chase, but the suspect produced his weapon and shot Sgt. Chapin in the head.

· At 10:29 a.m., dispatch received calls of an officer down. Several units were able to return fire, strike the suspect and get Mathews in custody by 10:29 a.m.

· Immediate attention was given to Sergeant Chapin for his injury, but at 10:40, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officer Johnston and Mathews were taken from the scene to a local hospital for treatment of their injuries in the gunbattle. Officer Johnston was treated and released for a gunshot to the back, which reportedly struck his vest. Mathews’ injuries and condition are not yet available due to hospital regulations and his status as a fugitive.

Chattanooga Police officials and investigators are still on the scene at 5952 Brainerd Road gathering evidence. The investigation is expected to be a lengthy one because of the numerous locations of evidence collection. Further reconstruction of the incident may last for at least a week and will depend on witness statements, forensic data, evidence collected and collaborative efforts of all agencies involved.

Sgt. Chapin was a 26-year veteran of the Chattanooga Police Department who had joined the ranks in November of 1984. He is survived by his wife and two children. Arrangements for his funeral service will be announced at another time.

Jesse Mathews
Jesse Mathews

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