News >> Browse Articles >> Officer Down News


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.

  • Th_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Sgt Chapin. prayers go out to all of his family, friends, and coworkers.

  • Pic-0246_max50


    over 3 years ago


    what the hell was this guy doing out of prison? 20yrs on a robbery conviction and he is out after 8? i doubt 2003 was his first run in with law enforcement. therefore he should been there alot longer than 8 years. thats ridiculous. let me guess he told the prison review board he was sorry for what he did and was reformed? unbelievable. theyre always on their best behavior in prison just to get out and back to what they were doing before. Rest In Peace Sgt. Chapin and may God be able to help your family heal during this heart breaking loss

  • Pug_max600_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIPB Prayers to your family. May we never forget the uncountable sacrifices you made. May God Bless and keep you on your final watch in Heaven. Until we meet again.....................

  • Justified_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Truly a warrior with a servant's heart, a protector of the peace and a light to the lost. May we never forget the fallen who had the courage to defend the thin blue line

    Rest in Peace.

  • Win_20140410_232326_max50


    over 3 years ago



  • Officer_2520down_2520cop_max50


    over 3 years ago


    rest in peace brother!!

  • Gods_team_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Sgt. Chapin. Thank you for your service.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    RIP my Brother!! To all who still protect our streets, Lets be careful out there. Remember, there is no such thing as a routine call anymore. God watch over all of us who have passed and their families. Keep a watch over all of us who are still giving our all.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Sgt. My condolences to the family and friends.

  • Thin_blue_line_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Brother, Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Policememorial---a_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in peace Sgt. Chapin, may God welcome you home with open arms and may He comfort the loved ones you have left behind.

  • K9-wallpaper_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Brother.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Sgt. Chapin. May God Bless your family and fellow officers. My prayers for the other officer and all those affected by this senseless act of violence.

  • Hpim0324_max50


    over 3 years ago



  • 014_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Go 42 Sarge- We've got the watch from here... Rest in Peace, Prayers go out to the friends and families involved....The Lord may forgive, but we shall never forget.

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

SE851 commented on: "David Hamson", 8 minutes ago.
sheriff950 commented on: "Robert Wolfgang", 14 minutes ago.
Motorcop_213 commented on: "d s", 21 minutes ago.
Irishcop1961 gave a thumbs down to The Article "Boston bombing suspect's North Bergen sister charged ...", 24 minutes ago.