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TN Officer Killed In Gun Battle With Colorado Fugitive

TN Officer Killed In Gun Battle With Colorado Fugitive

Chatanoogs Times Free Press via YellowBrix

April 04, 2011

CHATTANOOGA, TN – One by one, slowly, people started to come forward Sunday.

Some laid flowers beside the tape barrier outside the U.S. Money Shops store on Brainerd Road.

They didn’t personally know 51-year-old Chattanooga Police Department Sgt. Tim Chapin, but they mourned his loss.

“I’m just heartbroken,” said 62-year-old JoAnn Cook, choked with emotion, as she clutched a small vase of daisies adorned with a small American flag. “I grew up in Chattanooga. I can’t believe this happened. I just wanted to leave something.”

Behind her, 11 large bullet holes showed in the glass doors of the U.S. Money Shops, a pawnshop that was the scene of a gunbattle after a robbery Saturday.

Chapin, a 27-year veteran, was shot to death while pursuing the robbery suspect. Officer Lorin Johnston was hit in the back by a bullet but protected by body armor.

The suspect, Jesse R. Mathews, was also shot and remained hospitalized Sunday with no information available on his condition.

On Sunday, red tape X’s left by crime scene technicians showed where the battle unfolded on a road behind the pawnshop.

Chattanooga police said Chapin was one of three or four officers who answered the robbery alarm at 10:24 a.m. to the store at 5952 Brainerd Road. Police said the robber fired out the front door, then ran out a side door with police in pursuit. The robber shot at police during a 200-yard pursuit. Chapin hit the man with his car, but the man got back up and fired.

Chapin was shot in the head and died in just moments.

Several officers returned fire and took the suspect down. Colorado records show Mathews recently was paroled on a robbery conviction.

His Facebook page shows a picture of him with his chest and upper arms covered in tattoos of handguns, knives, bullets and brass knuckles.


Jesse Mathews

Chapin’s death hung on the minds of people who knew him and some who didn’t.

His usual table at Starbucks on Brainerd Road bore an empty coffee cup, a copy of the Times Free Press with the headline, “A city mourns,” and a hand-lettered sign: “This seat is closed out of respect for Officer Tim where he sat every day for the past two years.”

He had enjoyed his usual tall decaf coffee earlier Saturday morning.

“We were really, really busy that day. He managed to sit down for a few minutes, but then he darted out,” said Michelle Wade, who works as a barista at the coffeehouse.

She said the shift manager came up with the idea of reserving the table. Patrons reflected on the image as they stood in line before giving their order.

“I wrote the sign and we put it up. People are just looking at it. Nobody has sat there. It’s been quiet,” she said.

At Chapin’s church, Abba’s House Central Baptist in Hixson, the sermon was dedicated to the slain officer. He had been a member for 22 years.

“The man who shot Tim Chapin — if he gets down on his knees and asks for forgiveness, he can get saved,” senior pastor Ronnie Phillips said. “We may send him to the chair afterwards.”

About eight other police officers attend the church, which has a congregation of about 5,000 people. At the end of the service, about 30 emergency personnel gathered at the front.

Church members took up donations for the Chapin family. Chapin’s wife, Kelle, manages the Abba’s House Academy, a day care center for children. The couple has 12-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter.

Phillips said he spent two hours with Kelle Chapin after she learned the news.

“It seems like they have the steel in their soul,” Phillips said of the strength required of law enforcement spouses.

“Kelle’s broken, but this is what her husband did. And she told me every day when he went out, she knew that something could happen. She didn’t expect this.”

Chattanooga police officers continued to work the scene throughout the day Sunday with several people, including Cook, showing up to offer condolences.

“I just have a tremendous amount of respect for them. You never say thank you,” Cook said, describing people’s attitudes toward law enforcement officers. “You just expect them to be there.”

Colorado records show Jesse R. Mathews, 25, was convicted of robbery in 2003 in El Paso County, Colo., and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He had a parole hearing scheduled in March, according to Colorado Department of Corrections records. He is listed in state records as a fugitive inmate and authorities say he is wanted on three robbery warrants.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    This guy was just convicted in 2003 and given 20 years - it is 2011; why was he even out of prison after 8 years?

    May the Lord keep this officer family safe - Ms. Kelle you are in my prayers... Please know:

    God is GOOD and the Lord will see you thru your difficult times that you have ahead. It will be hard but stay strong and know the the Lord has your hubsand and he his watching over you...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    God bless this family and protect them in their time of grief an need. RIP brother and know that you have done your best. You are a true hero.

  • 432nd_tfw_patch_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP. May the children have a peaceful life knowing their brave father was protecting the community from scum. May God bless all of them for their sacrifice.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    rest in peace tim. as for his wife and children, and the police dept.your in my prayers.he died a hero.

  • Img_1347a_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest In Peace Bro. May Yahweh comfort your family at their hour of need!

  • Img_1347a_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Another senseless killing by a mindless perpetrator.

  • Tac-me_max50


    over 3 years ago



  • Scan0004_max50


    over 3 years ago


    R.I.P. my brother

  • Car_004_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Brother, God Bless Your Soul, your family, friends and department.

    "The man who shot Tim Chapin — if he gets down on his knees and asks for forgiveness, he can get saved,”
    I have a problem with this statement. I am a GOD fearing man, strong in my faith, but I have a hard time believing that on judgement day this scumbag can be standing beside the officer he an equal .....just because he is sorry and asks to be forgiven? The Sgt walked the line and devoted his life to HELP OTHERS. To HELL WITH YOU Mathews, burn forever and may you feel the pain you caused the family of this fine Sgt times infinity, every second of every day forever.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    As a Denver Police Officer's Widow, I feel the pain, strong, for this family. I know what they will face in the coming years. My husband died on duty (not in the line of duty) 14 months ago. The pain is as fresh now as it was the day he died.

    Our men and women are on this job to protect our people. They only have each other to protect them and too many times, that is just not enough. Too many times they are understaffed and underpaid. They sure as hell don't always get the respect they deserve.

    People don't stop to realize that they are not just cops, they have wifes, children, mother's, father's. They are human like the rest of us. They cry at births, deaths, they laugh like the rest of us. They feel, as we feel. They die like the rest of us, will eventually.

    My husband, Patrick spent 34 years, 5 months and 13 days doing what he loved. He always wanted to be a Police Officer. His last day of watch was Feb. 8, 2010, which was our grandson's 3rd birthday. On the 1 year anniversary of his death, Feb. 8, 2011, our new granddaughter was born. Ironic? unbelievable? a miracle? Only God can give me that answer as to why I have 2 grandbabies on the date that he called my husband home.

    The death of a Police Officer, is something that you just can't wrap your thoughts around, our officer's that die in the line of duty an even on duty is so senseless. I was not the only one who lost my husband that day, All of the Officer's in the world lost him, just like they lost this brother.

    The pain of hearing, yet another officer was gunned down is heartbreaking. It is a pain that just won't go away. The tears slide freely down our faces, with no shame. These heros leave behind great legacies. They leave a hole in our hearts, so great, it's hard to heal.

    As the wife of an Officer Down, I grieve again, for this Officer. I feel the grreat pain of this loss. To his widow, his children, his family, his friends, his brother in arms, I grieve for them. They say the road is long for healing?. The loss of an Officer has a never ending road., you don't heal, you just pick up and move on, as best you can. There is no ending to the grief of an Officer Down.................

    My thoughts and prayers go out to each of you.

    Annmarie, Denver, Colorado

  • Pl_004_max50


    over 3 years ago


    May your family find peace and all who hear your name recognize that you paid the ultimate price. Not because you had to but because you cared enough to volunteer to. To some you be called a fallen officer. To me you are a hero. Rest in peace my brother. Rest in peace.

  • 21_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in Peace Brother, It breaks my heart that so many of our Brothers and Sisters fall to cowards. There will be two days of judgement for Mathews...

  • Dscn1574_max50


    over 3 years ago


    From my family to the families of of lost ones. You have our sincere sympathy & respect. Were with you.

    And a message to the Parole Board, Congratulations for letting another Animal Out.

  • Cop_car_night_max50


    over 3 years ago


    The Clouds have opened, The Sky is Blue, Our Father in Heaven has been waiting for You, Rest in Peace Brother, Your Duty on earth is through, Go an Guard the Heavens, While We Will Miss You, the Arms of Angels, are surrounding You!! God Has Blessed You, & God Will Bless the United States of All Our Brothers and Sister LEO'S-----

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    May you rest in peace Sgt. Chapin you've earned eternal rest. I send prayers of strength to Mrs. Chapin and your children. I wish a very long life of pure hell for the creep who took your life.

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