Officer kills robbery suspect
Relatives call her a sweet spirit who sought dangerous thrills
By CINDY GEORGE and MIKE GLENN
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:53AM
A Houston police officer shot and killed Ciara Lee, 20, after she pointed a gun at him, authorities said
A suspected robber shot dead by police in southwest Houston early Thursday was described by relatives as a sweet spirit who sought dangerous thrills that they worried would lead to a tragic end.
Ciara Lee, 20, was killed after officials said she pointed a gun at a Houston Police Department officer around 1:45 a.m. in the parking lot of a southwest Houston apartment complex.
"The officer gave verbal commands for her to drop the weapon. She turned toward the officer, pointing the weapon at him," said John Cannon, a Houston police spokesman.
Officer D. Hoang fired once, striking the woman. A gun was found near her body, authorities said.
Another suspected robber, 18-year-old Jamarkus Jerome Page, was taken into custody after trying to flee by climbing over a fence near the Mills Apartments, 10225 Bissonnet near Forum Park, officials said. He is charged with evading arrest on foot. On the scene, Page denied any role in the holdup, police said
Keela Lee saw an early morning television news report Thursday about an officer-involved shooting and learned the dead person was a woman on a 6 a.m. update just before she left home for classes at Houston Community College.
'A thrill-seeking thing'
She did not find out that the fatally shot woman was her daughter until she returned to her southwest Houston apartment later that day.
"I told Ciara someone was going to take her life because of the rambunctious way she was living," Keela Lee said late Thursday. "She has lived a good life. She didn't have to do this. This was a thrill-seeking thing."
Ciara Lee had no criminal record in Harris County, but the incident wasn't the first time she had been involved in illegal activity, her mother said.
Christian Lee said his sister was a "great person" who made bad choices to fit into a certain crowd.
"She was the nicest person you could ever meet," the 18-year-old said. "She'd give you her last dollar if you asked her for it."
Ciara Lee was a popular figure in social media circles, with more than 40,000 MySpace followers and 4,000 Facebook friends.
Keela Lee said she raised her children in Los Angeles and Sugar Land, providing a decent upbringing with travel and material extras. She said her daughter dropped out of high school to escape remedial classes and failing grades as well as to recover from the trauma of murdered grandparents. Ciara had been living on her own with a girlfriend, her mother said.
"She didn't have to do this," Keela Lee said. "She had 62 pairs of tennis shoes. She's holding money in her hand all the time. She's fly. She was a trend setter."
No stranger to tragedy
Lee said she's more prepared than most to handle her child's shooting death because her mother was murdered in Harris County in 1999 and her father was slain three years ago in Los Angeles. In those cases, the assailants were, for a time, unknown. In a strange way, it's a bit of a relief to know who killed her daughter, she said, and have the onslaught of media attention to sort out the details.
"I'm not mad at the police and I'm not mad at Ciara," Lee said. Still, "she's gone. That's my baby."
Markaila Wiltz, 21, described her girlfriend of nearly a year as an outgoing, popular, "class clown" type who wouldn't be involved in criminal activity.
"That's not even her character," Wiltz said. "She's 20 years old and has never been in any trouble. That's what's eating me up. She's really not that type of person."
Authorities said Ciara Lee and Page robbed a man as he was pulling into his home along Beechnut near Jorine shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday. Two people wearing masks approached him.
"One of the suspects had a gun and demanded items that he had on him," Cannon said.
Man followed robbers
The man told police the robbers took his laptop computer, a cell phone and his wallet. He followed their white Dodge Neon and watched as it drove into the Mills Apartments about a mile and a half away.
The man called police from a nearby service station then led the officers to the complex.
He pointed out the Neon then identified the robbers. They wore masks during the holdup, but the man told police he recognized their clothing and general build, authorities said.
Officers searched the Neon and found a laptop computer and a wallet believed to belong to the robbery victim. The car also had been reported stolen earlier this month, authorities revealed.
Officer Hoang wasn't injured. He is a nine-year HPD veteran assigned to the department's Westside patrol division.