An 11-year-old boy named Tyler has lost his father because someone stole a U-Haul vehicle, ditched it, stole a minivan, led Houston police on a high-speed chase and then slammed that minivan into Tyler's father, as he was throwing down spike strips on the street to stop the chase.
Tyler's father, 47-year-old Houston Police Department officer Richard Martin, was killed by a suspect in a reported carjacking on Monday morning. Martin is the first HPD officer killed while on duty since May 2011.
Following a change in careers, Martin was sworn in as an HPD officer in November 2010. He was known around the HPD Westside Command station where he was assigned as a hard worker who often took on extra challenges such as helping to train new recruits.
Martin's colleagues were not surprised at his efforts to stop the chase from moving onto the Katy Freeway.
"He wanted to do what he could do, to do his part to stop this person from getting to that intersection at the Katy Freeway and Kirkwood, which is a very busy intersection," said Ray Hunt of the Houston Police Officers Union.
Ofc. Martin died protecting countless drivers and strangers. While Houston police are not officially identifying the suspect, who later shot himself in the head in an attempted suicide, multiple sources close to the investigation confirmed Jeffrey Ryan Conlin, 33, as the man who slammed the stolen minivan into Ofc. Martin.
Conlin had a lengthy criminal history and warrants pending for his arrest for unlawful possession of body armor by a felon and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.
Sources tell FOX 26 News that Conlin led police on the chase while officers were responding to a separate call for help from a convenience store clerk who had just been robbed by two men. The robbers had used a crowbar to break into an ATM.
Late on Monday evening, Houston police issued a statement saying they have no reason to believe the suspect (Conlin) is connected to the robbery call or the two men who were captured on the store's surveillance system video. The statement also included a request for privacy from the officer's family, which includes a 22-year old daughter and Tyler, who lost his father one month before his next birthday and Fathers Day.
"I believe he turns 12 next month," said Hunt.