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Traffic Stop Turns into Fatal Shooting As Gunman Kills Police Officer and Bystander

A traffic stop turned into a fatal shooting  on Christmas Eve when a gunman killed a police officer and bystander in the  parking lot of a Houston body shop, police said.

The confrontation followed a chase that began  shortly before 9am Monday when the suspect sped off in his car rather than pull  over as an officer had requested, Houston police spokesman John Cannon said.

As the suspect fled, he sideswiped a white  truck, which also took off after him, he said.

The suspect, identified by Cannon as Harlem  Harold Lewis, 21, and the white truck eventually pulled into a nearby Maaco body  shop, where Bellaire police Cpl. Jimmie Norman approached the vehicle.

Cannon said an argument apparently erupted,  and the suspect pulled out a .380 caliber handgun and shot Norman.

Investigating: Police investigate the scene where Bellaire police officer Norman and an unnamed bystander were shot to death after the motorist, identified by police as Harlem Harold Lewis, 21, opened fire

The saddest thing is that the officer, who  is deceased, didn’t have the opportunity to pull his weapon and defend himself,’ Cannon said. ‘It happened that fast.’

He said a man then walked out of the body  shop, and the suspect shot him.

Other officers arrived at the scene and found  Norman lying on the ground and the suspect next to him, holding a gun, Cannon  said.

‘They are immediately fired upon, and those  two officers then returned fire,’ he said.

The suspect was shot but fled on foot, Cannon  said. He hid under a parked truck, but officers followed a trail of blood and  arrested him.

‘This suspect murdered a police officer and  murdered an innocent bystander,’ Cannon said.

He said Lewis was expected to be charged  later Monday with capital murder of a police officer and murder for the death of  the bystander.

Norman, 53, worked for the Bellaire Police  Department for 23 years and was the first of its officers to be shot in the line  of duty, Bellaire police spokesman Robert Beran said.

‘We’re devastated by his loss. We’re  devastated by what this has done to his family,’ Bellaire Police Chief Byron  Holloway told reporters at a news conference.

The identity of the bystander has not yet  been released.

The parking lot of the body shop remained  cordoned off with yellow police tape hours after the shootings. Officers milled  around, collecting evidence and discussing the incident.

The owners of a nearby auto parts store  closed up early for Christmas, although other stores in the strip mall remained  open as people rushed in for last-minute holiday errands.

Stephanie Pacheco, who works at the auto  parts store, said she saw the officer get out of his patrol car in the parking  lot next door and approach the driver.

The officer opened the suspect’s car door and  tried to pull him out, she told the Houston Chronicle.

That’s when the suspect opened fire, she  said. The officer fell down, and the suspect continued firing shots in other  directions, Pacheco said.

‘This is senseless, ridiculous and needs to  stop,’ Pacheco said. ‘I’m tired of seeing people die. It’s a sad  thing.’

The bystander was shot at close range and  died at the scene, Cannon said.

It wasn’t clear why the man stepped outside  the body shop or whether he was an employee or a customer, he added.

Norman was rushed to a hospital and died  there.

The suspect was in critical but stable  condition at a Houston hospital. Cannon said he is expected to  survive.

Houston and Bellaire police and the Harris  County District Attorney’s office are investigating.

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Posted by on December 25, 2012. Filed under NY News,Slider. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.