Slain Houston police sergeant known for composure under pressure
Sgt. Christopher Brewster was fatally shot Saturday, radioed in a description of his shooter as he lay dying
St. John Barned-Smith
HOUSTON — The Houston police sergeant heard Christopher Brewster before he met him. Brewster, a newly promoted Eastside sergeant, was whistling a Christmas song — in April.
When Sgt. Paul Wyssbrod suggested the music was a little early, his new co-worker grinned.
“It’s never the wrong time of year for Christmas music,” Brewster told him.
Brewster, 32, was gunned down Saturday evening while responding to a domestic violence call in Magnolia Park. Police arrested 25-year-old Arturo Solis that night in the shooting death. He faces capital murder charges.
After Brewster’s death, Police Chief Art Acevedo said he was proud of the way Brewster lived his life.
“I will always cherish his infectious smile and his love for his family, friends, co-workers & community,” the chief said, in a message posted on social media early Sunday morning.
A visitation will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Sagemont Church at 11300 South Sam Houston Parkway East in Houston. A public funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Grace Church Houston at 14505 Gulf Freeway.
The death of the young, married sergeant left relatives and fellow officers reeling. They mourned a man whom they described as devoted to his family and job, who had a mischievous sense of humor and a wide, curious interest in the world, from gardening and gourmet coffee to CrossFit and retro ’80s music.
A native Houstonian, Brewster graduated from J. Frank Dobie High School in south Houston and received a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Texas A&M University-Commerce. He was working toward a master’s degree. His family attended Sagemont Church, where he played the guitar in several youth bands, according to Jason Ryan, the church’s communications director. Brewster joined the Houston Police Department nine years ago, graduating from the police training academy in November 2010. He began as a patrol officer, then worked stints in the gang division and the major offenders division.
Theo Tsekouras met Brewster shortly after he graduated from the academy. The rookie cop was looking for a gym where he could train to meet the rigors of his new job, Tsekouras recalled.
Initially, Brewster seemed somewhat imposing, Tsekouras said — he was tall and had a slew of tattoos. But anyone who met him soon discovered Brewster’s humor and warmth.
“From a tall and hulking guy, you’d think he might be brooding — especially with the tattoos — but he was just really goofy,” Tsekouras said. “He was lighthearted and always had a smile on his face and was fun to be around.”
Eventually, Tsekouras asked Brewster to work as a coach at the gym. Brewster coached at the gym for a few years but left shortly before getting married to his wife, Bethany, in 2014.
Officer G. Dane Garcia first met Brewster in 2013, when they both worked the night shift in the gangs division. They became partners in 2016 after both moved to the day shift, Garcia recalled.
“He was kind but firm,” Garcia, 33, said. “He had kind of a no-nonsense attitude. You always knew what he was thinking — good or bad.”
They responded to dangerous situations in some of the city’s highest-crime areas, Garcia said, and they frequently had to step in to protect each other. Brewster stuck out for his deep determination, no matter the circumstances.
One day in 2016, the two officers stopped a car carrying three robbery suspects about a half-mile from Greenspoint Mall.
After the officers approached the car, Garcia asked the driver to step out of the vehicle, only to watch the man start to drive away. The car dragged Brewster — who had been holding onto a window — for 30 feet before he let go and tumbled away, landing hard on his hip and leg.
Garcia picked up Brewster, and the two chased the suspects for miles. Brewster radioed for help as Garcia drove.
When the suspects finally crashed, Brewster rushed out of the car — despite his injuries — to chase them down and arrest them.
“I always knew he would have my back,” Garcia said.
In 2019, Brewster was promoted to sergeant and returned to a patrol assignment in the Eastside Division. Brewster put people at ease, and co-workers looked forward to working with him, Wyssbrod said.
He worked hard and was meticulous about getting ready and checking his equipment before going on patrol, Wyssbrod said. He was hoping to earn his certification as a “Distinguished Expert” at HPD’s gun range.
“I forgot he was a new sergeant,” said Wyssbrod, 40. “He just carried himself like a man with much more experience than he had.”
When Brewster wasn’t responding to calls, he liked to talk about his wife and share photos of his dog, a Belgian Malinois named Brienne.
“Everybody was drawn to him,” Wyssbrod said. “He would come into the office and he would always have this smile on his face — like he’d just done something.”
In addition to his wife, Brewster is survived by his parents, Cynthia and Lewis Brewster of the Houston area, as well as three sisters, two nephews and a niece.
Family members were not ready to talk about Brewster, police said.
Fellow officers sometimes liked to rib Brewster about his wide range of interests, which he frequently shared with colleagues.
He loved gourmet coffee so much that he brought a personal coffee bean grinder to work to make fresh coffee on long overnight shifts. He talked about composting, kombucha and ’80s rock.
He loved gardening — and sometimes on breaks drove to plant nurseries to buy a new tree for his home.
On Saturday, Brewster was among the officers responding to a domestic violence call on Avenue I in Magnolia Park. Arturo Solis’ girlfriend had reported being assaulted and said her boyfriend had two guns, according to police.
Officers couldn’t find Solis at first. Brewster spotted him a few blocks away.
Brewster waved and called out to Solis to get his attention, at which point the east Houston man shot the nine-year HPD veteran “unprovoked” multiple times near the 7400 block of Avenue L, authorities said. The suspect fled the scene.
As he lay dying, Brewster radioed a description of the suspect to fellow officers, leading to Solis’ apprehension.
“We wouldn’t have known where to start — or what the suspect was wearing — had Chris not maintained his composure,” Wyssbrod said.
Brewster’s heroism surprised no one.
“He did his job right up until the end,” he said. “And he did it really well.”
- Police Heroes