Houston police have charged 23-year-old Jeremiah M. Matthews with attempted capital murder after he allegedly stabbed an off-duty police officer 14 times at a Meyerland Wal-Mart.
Police said Mr. Matthews attacked Houston Community College Officer April Pikes, 24, early Tuesday morning and later admitted to investigators that he was out to kill an officer “because cops are oppressive,” a local NBC affiliate reported.
“The defendant gave a statement admitting he had the intent to attack a police officer and his desire to kill a police officer,” prosecutors said during a magistrate’s hearing Tuesday night.
Witnesses said Mr. Matthews came into the Wal-Mart and tackled Officer Pikes, who was working there as a security guard. Police said bystanders detained the suspect after he began stabbing the officer in her arm and torso with a hunting knife, the NBC affiliate reported.
“I saw him on her just stabbing her,” said witness Abe Baker, who was one of several shoppers who intervened. “His arm was just up getting ready to stab her and I just grabbed his arm and took him down, and that’s when everybody else came over, and we all just took him down.”
Mr. Baker said he exchanged a glance and even said hello to the suspect, who seemed upbeat before the attack, the station reported.
“It appears he just walked right in and attacked her,” said Houston Police Department spokesperson Kese Smith.
Investigators at the scene said Mr. Matthews told them he did it to get back at police for what he called brutal treatment, the station reported.
Officer Pikes is expected to survive the attack but may lose her right arm.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, community activist Deric Muhammad spoke on behalf of Mr. Matthews’ family.
“He does have a diagnostic history of mental illness in the past. To what degree that played into what happened, we don’t know,” Mr. Muhammad said, adding that Mr. Matthews “may have been influenced” by the riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, the NBC affiliate reported.
Mr. Matthews is charged with attempted capital murder of a police officer and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He could get up to 99 years in prison if convicted, the report said.