HOUSTON – Nassau Bay officials and community are mourning the loss of Sgt. Kaila Sullivan Wednesday after she was killed in the line of duty Tuesday night.
A candlelight vigil was held to honor her memory Wednesday night. A heartbroken community came together to remember a fallen hero.
Victoria Montes, who attended the vigil explained, “She was an amazing person. Smiling always, she was there for you.”
Less than 24 hours later, it’s the community that’s now responding to news of her death.
Sheila self who also attended the vigil said, “we have a great police department, a great fire department. we love this community. they take care of us, we're going to take care of them.
Camyll Pope, who showed up to support the fallen officer said, “My heart breaks for them. I can’t imagine. You can’t take life for granted. You never know.”
Sullivan, 43, was killed during a traffic stop when the suspect she was trying to arrest, got away, jumped in a vehicle and ran her over, officials say. The 16-year veteran of the Nassau Bay Police Department was rushed to a hospital but she succumbed to her injuries.
The suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Tavores D. Henderson, remains at large as of late Monday morning.
“Kaila’s loss is a tragedy,” said Nassau Bay Mayor Mark Denman during a news conference Monday. “Our citizens have praised Kaila, all these years. Not just today and after this terrible event, but up until now. She’s highly regarded in our city."
Nassau Bay Police Chief Tim Cromie choked back tears as he described the sergeant that was part of his 14-officer team.
“Sgt. Sullivan, Kaila, was an outgoing individual," he said. “She was a leader in this department. She helped mold some of the officers that are behind me.”
Cromie said Sullivan was in charge of training officers and “was a guiding factor in this department.”
“She was beloved in the community," he said. “She was a wonderful mother to a son."
He went on to describe her as “a wonderful person” and “a police officer’s police officer.”
“Epitome of what you would want in your department," he said of the slain sergeant. “She’s gonna be missed.”
Denman said in the nearly 50-year history of Nassau Bay, it was the first time a police officer was killed in the line of duty.
“PD is a family. We’re a small town. About 14 officers," Denman said. "We know 'em by face, by name. They’re not like a family. They are a family.”
Cromie described Nassau Bay as a tightly-knit community and said other law enforcement agencies were stepping in to help so his team could “decompress” after the night’s events.
“The guys behind me are professional and we’re going to remain that way because that’s what Sgt. Sullivan would have wanted us," he said. “But we’re also people and we’re human, and it’s going to hurt.”
City officials said there has been an “extreme outpouring of support and donations” since news broke of Sullivan’s death Tuesday night. In order to handle all the phone calls, two hotlines were set up for people wishing to pay their respects or offer donations. Those hotlines are 281-841-4420 and 281-979-2271.
“Pray with us. We’re going to need all the help we can," Denman said. "We’ll get through this. We’ve a strong community, a great police force, team...we’ll be OK.”
Residents throughout the Bay Area community remembered Sgt. Sullivan for her dedication to those she served.
“It’s saddening to hear something like that happening to one of our hometown heroes,” said Andrew Hernandez.
Hernandez and Wesley Houston own Rowdy’s Dance Hall on East Nassau Parkway.
“It was just devastating,” Houston said.
The business recently got to thank Sgt. Sullivan and other members of the Nassau Bay Police Department through an initiative they run called Bagels and Brew. Their employees drop off coffee and bagels to those who serve and protect.
“We do bagels and brew more or less to give back towards all of our first responders,” Houston said.
“It’s important for us to give back to the community and especially our first responders. Sometimes they can feel like they’re unappreciated so we like to give back to the community as much as we can,” Hernandez said.