HOUSTON, Texas – Houston Police Officer Richard Martin was run down and killed by driver fleeing from police during a high speed chase early Monday morning. Martin was attempting to deploy spike strips to end the chase when he was struck by the fleeing vehicle.
Officials stated the incident began with a 2:30 a.m. robbery at a convenience store located at the intersection of Highway 290 and Fairbanks-North Houston in northwest Houston, according to a KHOU report by Adam Bennett. Police attempted to stop the driver who was allegedly fleeing in a stolen U-Haul van.
Police chased the vehicle which was weaving in and out of traffic. The chase reached speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. The suspect fired several shots at police through the back window of the van.
At the intersection of Highway 6 and FM 529, he carjacked a minivan at gunpoint from a female driver. The chase continued east to Kirkwood, near the Katy Freeway in west Houston. This is where Officer Martin was struck and killed while attempting to deploy spikes.
The chase continued eastward to the Washington exit of IH-10. He proceeded south on Washington to Memorial where the driver again turned east to Shepherd.
The suspect has been identified by police as 33-year-old Jeffery Ryan Conlin, according to a report on ABC13.com. Police said the chase eventually moved to north Houston and ended just off the IH-45 North Freeway at the Little York exit. As shots had previously been fired, police stayed back until a single gunshot was heard. Police said Conlin shot himself in the head, but survived the wound. He is currently in the hospital.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said Conlin will face capital murder charges if he survives. She intends to seek the death penalty.
The Houston Police Department posted the following on the department’s official Facebook page:
It is with heavy hearts that we announce we have lost one of our own in the line of duty. Officer Richard Martin was struck and killed by a suspect vehicle during a pursuit. He was a 4-year veteran of HPD.
Suspect is in custody.
Please keep Officer Martin’s family and the men and women of HPD in your thoughts and prayers.
HPD Chief Charles McClelland said, “It’s horrible. You just don’t know what to do, you don’t know what to say.”
Mayor Annise Parker offered the following in a written statement:
I am deeply saddened by the death of another Houston Police officer in the line of duty. Our men and woman in blue leave their homes every day not knowing if they will return at the end of their shifts. They willingly place their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. I am praying for Officer Martin’s family and HPD as they mourn this loss. All of Houston mourns with them.
Officer Martin was said to have loved his job and always wanted to be a police officer, said McClelland.
Officer Martin is survived by an adult daughter and a minor son, along with his father. The family has been notified of the officer’s death. Martin was 47-years-old.