Police Officer Anthony Marcos Zarate
Bellaire Police Department, Texas
End of Watch: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Tour of Duty: 7 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Vehicle pursuit
Date of Incident: July 12, 2016
Weapon Used: Automobile
Suspect Info: At large
Agency Contact Information
Chief of Police Byron Holloway
Bellaire Police Department
5110 Jessamine Street
Bellaire, TX 77401
Phone: (713) 668-0487
Police Officer Anthony Zarate was killed in a motorcycle crash in the 8500 block of Ferris Drive while pursuing a vehicle that had been involved in an earlier shoplifting.
He was responding to a shoplifting call at a Target store in Meyerland Plaza at approximately 1:30 pm and attempted to stop the suspect vehicle in the parking lot. The vehicle fled from the parking lot with Officer Zarate in pursuit. Officer Zarate’s motorcycle struck a landscaping trailer as the pursuit traveled down Ferris Street, between Chimney Rock Road and South Rice Avenue.
The vehicle he was pursuing continued to flee and its two occupants remain at large.
Officer Zarate was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Bellaire Police Department for seven years. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.
Officer Anthony Zarate, 52, crashed shortly after 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in a residential area along the 8500 block of Ferris while pursing suspected robbers in the Meyerland area.
Zarate, a seven year veteran of the Bellaire Police Department, was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, officials said.
"This is a police officer doing his job for a community that he loved. He lost his life in the line of duty – just like American police officers do every two to three days in this country," said Byron Holloway, Bellaire’s police chief.
Minutes before the crash, a loss prevention officer at a Target store in the nearby Meyerland shopping center chased a pair of men who were suspected of stealing items into the parking lot. The store employee spotted Zarate in the parking lot, flagged him down and told him about the fleeing men.
At first, they were thought to be armed robbers because of a box cutter they were using. Houston police later said they were using the blade only to cut through anti-theft devices on the merchandise.
The Bellaire officer pulled up behind them before they pulled out of the parking lot. They raced away when Zarate approached them on foot, police said.
"He got back on his motorcycle and he starts pursuing the vehicle," said Victor Senties, a Houston police spokesman.
Zarate followed them along the narrow streets through the densely-packed residential area. Deryl Banks and his landscaping crew were mowing a lawn along the 8500 block of Ferris when he spotted Zarate apparently lose control of his police motorcycle.
"I saw the officer coming. He couldn’t swerve to miss my trailer," Banks said, still shaken after the ordeal.
Zarate fell to the roadway after striking the right rear section of the trailer. The motorcycle continued forward, vaulting over the curb and onto the lawn.
Banks said he immediately called 911 to report what happened.
"I didn’t want to try to move him or anything," Banks said. "There was nothing I could do. He was laying there motionless."
Michael Bowlin, who lives in the house where the motorcycle landed, came outside after the crash.
"It was a rush of medical personnel and police," he said. "It was just shocking."
Zarate was unconscious when paramedics arrived. They performed CPR then rushed him to the hospital.
Banks said he never saw the car Zarate was pursuing. Later, police had still not determined the make or model.
Houston police officers are investigating the fatal crash along with the earlier shoplifting incident because both events happened within Houston city limits.
Holloway said it wasn’t immediately clear what caused Zarate to lose control of the motorcycle.
"Pursuits are very dangerous. We take them very seriously, especially on motorcycle," Holloway said.
In most cases, a police motorcycle will move back once a patrol car joins a high-speed pursuit. But, backup units did not arrive in time because the pursuit and the fatal crash happened so quickly, authorities said.
Zarate served in the U.S. Marine Corps before becoming a police officer. He was married and had three daughters, a 25-year-old and a pair of 11-year-old twins.
"I feel for his family. I just hate that it happened," Banks said.