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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.

  • Pa_iii_frank_dimiceli_01_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest In Peace Brother,,,,Prayers and Good Thoughts,,, May the P O S face his maker soon

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    those that serve and to those who have sacraficed will always be honored. These are the men and women who respond to scenes where others flee and hide and need our help. Please honor, respect and thank them.

    Ken L. retired SJPD

  • Me_tresspassing_on_slaine_castle_grounds__ireland_max50


    over 3 years ago


    What sad and terrible news. NYPD Brooklyn South sends its deepest condolences to Sgt Chapin's family, and his brothers n sisters in blue who will bare the burden of his absence as they continue on each day on patrol without him.

    The gesture made by the staff at Starbucks was so thoughtful it made me cry.
    Rest in peace, Sarge.

  • Me_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP my brother and friend. It was an honor to have served with you and to have called you my friend. My you guard the Pearly Gates and welcome your fallen brothers and sisters as we come to see you once again.. May the Lord bless Kelle and the kids and keep them safe until you are with them again in Heaven. My prayers are with you and God Bless all LEOs who put their lives on the line every day without so much as a 'Thank You" from those they protect. As a retired LEO, my thanks go out to all who have and are serving to protect our streets and may God ride with you every day.

  • Lenacallcenter_max50


    over 3 years ago


    My condolences to the family, friends and fellow police officers of Sgt. Chapin. Rest in peace. My prayers also go out for Officer Johnston for a speedy recovery. May God bless and be with you all in this time of great sorrow.

  • Absolutelawenf_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in Peace

  • Usmc_eg_a_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Officer Chapin, you may now rest brother, God has called you home. May he bless Kelle, your wife and your two children with his divine presence and may they recover from this tragic loss and be strong.

    To the Parole board who paroled him: Are you starting to understand yet? The people you're releasing on parole are killing and maiming Law Enforcement Officer's at an alarming rate and you have the power to stop it! Save the parole for the NON-VIOLENT offenders. I guess all the tattoos of guns, knives and bullets didn't suggest to you this man's state of mind. Too bad for Officer Chapin's family and our citizens. We've lost something you can't replace. Learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again.

  • 09_011_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP my brother in blue. Your job here is done. God wanted another Angel, and he chose you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in peace Sgt Chapin. Prayers are going out to your family and brothers and sisters from Carthage PD in NC. Buck Mims

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    God bless Sgt. Chapin's family, may the peace of the Lord be with them and comfort them. RIP Sgt. Chapin. I blamed some of these judges for letting these monster criminals off with light sentences for their heinous crimes. Why was the suspect out on the streets with a record such as this??? If he was sentenced to 20 years in 2003 why was a violent criminal out on parole. Something is terribly wrong with the system. God forgive me but Matthews should NOT be alive.

  • Bearcat_2_max600_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in peace brother... Shame on our legislators who condone early release, second chances and parole. We all need to recognize that "war" has been declared on Law Enforcement. Stay safe!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago



  • Images_5__max50


    over 3 years ago


    BUMP smfulton... Rest In Peace Officer Chapin. May God Bless you, your family and your agency.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Brother. God bless you! Your family has my condolences. May Matthews walk the Green Mile.

  • Mt_juliet_patch_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Blessed are the peacemakers for they shal be called the children of God. - Matthew 5:9

    Peace be iwith Tim's family, friends, the officers that he served with and all that are still serving. Go rest high brother, it is time for us to walk the beat.

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