Updated: April 4, 2011 at 12:00 am
A man who allegedly shot and killed a Chattanooga, Tenn., police officer Saturday was a fugitive being sought in three armed robberies in Colorado Springs, court records show.
Jesse Mathews, 25, was wounded in a shootout with officers during a botched robbery of a pawn shop, according to the Chattanooga Police Department.
Sgt. Tim Chapin, a 26-year Chattanooga officer, was shot in the head and killed while pursuing the robber. Another officer was hit in the back, but the bullet was stopped by his bullet-proof vest.
Officers were alerted to the robbery by a holdup alarm, and shots were fired inside the pawn shop before the robber fled through a side door, police said.
The robber ran about 200 yards from the pawn shop, firing at pursuing police, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
The man fired into the police cruiser just before Chapin drove into him, Chattanooga police said. Chapin got out of his cruiser but was shot after a “very short” foot chase, said Sgt. Jerri Weary, Chattanooga police spokeswoman.
Mathews was shot by other pursuing officers and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he remained Monday.
His mother, Kathleen Mathews, told WTVC NewsChannel 9 in Chattanooga that her son is in a coma.
“He is in grave condition; we’ve asked to see him and we’re denied,” said Kathleen Mathews, adding later that “no matter what, he’s still our son. He’s still our flesh and blood and he is loved. Loved by us.”
The Chattanooga TV station reported that Mathews was heavily armed and wearing a bullet-proof vest during the shootout with police.
Colorado Springs police had been looking for Mathews since mid-February after he went missing from an El Paso community corrections facility, according to a police arrest affidavit.
Mathews was sentenced in 2003 to 20 years in prison after being convicted of committing at least 10 armed robberies in 10 days in Colorado Springs in 2002.
He was released from a minimum security prison in October to Community Corrections, where he was living while allegedly robbing businesses in Colorado Springs since the beginning of the year, according to the arrest warrant.
Two of the places robbed this year were the same businesses Mathews had robbed eight years earlier as a 17-year-old, police said.
On Jan. 22, police said Mathews allegedly held up his ComCor roommate while the man worked at Carl’s Junior, 425 Garden of the Gods Road.
The robber pulled out a silver handgun, the roommate and another man to get on the ground and ordered a third person to give him money from the safe, the affidavit said.
Mathews then allegedly held up these stores that he robbed in 2002, police said:
• On Feb. 11, a robber armed with a silver handgun, held up Cash America Pawn, 2205 Montebello Square Drive, Suite 100 and got away with about $15,000 in cash, 16 guns and a DVR system.
• Three days later, a man with a black revolver robbed Walgreens, 2785 Dublin Boulevard, escaping with $2,600.
Kathleen Mathews said her son’s life “first went astray” while the family lived in Colorado.
“He was around kids who had things and wanted things, things we could not financially provide for him,” Mathews told NewsChannel 9. “And he found that he could get them, by taking them.”
She said Saturdays’ events have left her in shock.
“We feel for the officer and his family,” she told the Chattanooga television station. “We feel their pain.”