Woman Killed, Officer Saved By Vest, In Police-Involved Shooting

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – A woman, armed with a handgun and making threats, opened fire on two Miami-Dade police officers early Friday, striking one of them, before she was fatally shot, according to police.

Gail Howard told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that her daughter, 32-year-old Catawaba Howard, had psychological issues.

She was an eight-year veteran of the Air Force and Army Reserves who recently left the military.

Experts said this tragedy calls attention to the fact that many veterans here and nationwide are in need of emotional and mental health treatment.

Catawaba, police said, was making threats to herself and others around 3:30 a.m. Someone called 911 and when police arrived at 1015 NW 109th Street, they were confronted by Catawaba who began to fire at the cops.

Officers William Vazquez and Saul Rodriguez returned fire and she was struck and killed on the scene.

Officer Vazquez, a 15-year veteran of the Miami-Dade PD, was struck once in the chest but his life was saved by his bullet proof vest. He was taken to Memorial West Hospital in stable condition.

Police told D’Oench he was released from the hospital. Vazquez had served two tours of duty in Iraq.

Howard’s mother said her daughter was ill.

“She was troubled in her own little roundabout way and she was seeking help,” said Gail Howard. “I know what was wrong. She was dealing with those issues.”

Thursday, Catawaba reportedly drove up to a stranger, Derek Nicholson, on a Liberty City street with a gun and asked him to kill her for $1,600.

“She wanted to get killed. She wanted me to kill her,” said Nicholson.

Instead, Nicholson told CBS4’s Kara Kostanich that he drove Catawaba to the crisis mental health center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, after she dropped off her gun and purse at her mother’s house.

“When I admitted her, I went back to her mom, and her mom said, ‘My daughter always do this, you know what I’m saying’ thought it was a joke,” he said.

It’s not clear how Howard was allowed to leave the mental health center in light of her seemingly desperate situation.

Gail Howard said her daughter left the hospital at her own will and within hours, her life was taken by police after she opened fire on officers.

“I just want to know what happened,” she said, “and that the truth be told.”

Howard also said she was proud of her daughter.

“She was a school teacher,” she said. “She had worked with Wackenhut security at Metrorail. She was in the Air Force and the Army reserve. She was very intelligent. She got a total of five scholarships. She has a lot of trophies. She was outstanding.”

Dr. Jonathan Sherin, a psychiatrist at the VA Health Care System, said the VA was investigating this incident as well, since Howard was a veteran. He told D’Oench that of 50,000 veterans who are patients of the VA in South Florida, as many as half of them have mental health issues.

“We have a crisis hotline that can help veterans that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is 1-800-273-TALK,” Sherin said.

He said the VA has many programs and psychologists and psychiatrists and counselors who can veterans with a variety of programs with inpatient services, residential treatment, outpatient services.

“These are programs that provide continuous treatment and we can get veterans to the appropriate facilities,” said Sherin. “They can also check our website: veteranscrisisline.net. There is help.”

Comments

One Comment

  1. ImJustSaying says:

    I love how the people writing these articles always put “Police Involved Shhoting” to imply that the police did something wrong. How about you change that to “Crazy lady involved shooting”?

    1. MAJ Coleman says:

      People should speak only when they know what the situation is. I was in the Warrior In Transition Battalion with this Soldier and I knew she was mentally ill but I honestly feel that the U.S. Army failed her. She was sent home and they knew that she needed more medical care.

  2. Brooklyn bridge says:

    if it’s floreeda, the cops prolly allways involved.

  3. Hoof Arted says:

    You know what really happened. Cops shot the wrong person, then planted a gun in her hands after his buddy officer shot him (conviniently) in the chest where his bullet proof vest was,

    1. Annie says:

      You mean CONVENIENTLY not CONVINIENTLY

  4. Robert Stuart says:

    I heard a local radio station this morning report this woman as “the victim.” Of what? Of whom? Herself?

  5. MarGon says:

    I live 2 blocks away from this and the story is that she is a veteran (served in the Air Force) who was mentally ill and wanted to die. She even offered someone $500 to kill her. When the police arrived they were met with gunfire. This is just a sad thing to happen and the police were not at fault (this time).

  6. james says:

    Maybe we should do a federal probe into if the officers should had offered a lollypop frist are shot the small finger as they do in the movies to satisfiy the public and community activists in the area.

  7. Clo56 says:

    One less person on welfare.

    1. Tired of inhuman people says:

      How ignorant of you. She was not on Welfare nor did she ever take or ask for anything that was not rightfully due to her. It’s amazing that you guys can sit and make light of someone dying and call yourself human beings. Remember that there is a tomorrow. At one point in her life she had everything and the next she was battling a horrible diagnosis. Who knows where you or your loved ones will end up. P.S. God is the final judge. Judge thy neighbors and God will judge you accordingly.

  8. Dolores says:

    What happen is the company she worked for G4S (Wackenhut) i so desparate to hire “bodies” to avoid overtime so they can get fat bonus checks, they forget the human psyche of an individual. Just because a person was in the military or have a criminal justice degree doesn’t mean they are qualified to carry a weapon. Way to go Wackenhut.

    1. RANDRAND says:

      dolores-the problem with g4s Wackenhut is that they are so corrupt and greedy-and have been for years, that they destroy everyone and everything around them. they were corrupt back when i served for 12 years, and then it was on to Securitas-which did the same outsourced mess-and this whole security thing is going to wreck the minds of our veterans who need services and help-and are n-o-t going to find it in outsourced security! America is going to realize a great sorrow trying to shove our military into these sub-standard security jobs-I warned The President about this in numerous blogs that he had to make a new national guard militia of professional quality for opportunity-but they don’t listen to my vision of job creation. The standards that are in security now are not up to par-and will not be allowed to continue!

    2. RANDRAND says:

      THE DUMMIES FIRED ME AFTER 12 YEARS SERVICE-YET-I SERVED 12 MORE YEARS WITH SECURITAS—GO FIGURE! THEN 50 STATE SECURITY USES MY SERVICES FOR THREE MORE YEARS UNTIL THE CLIENT FIGURES OUT I WAS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE GUARD—-ON THE NIGHT SHIFT??! THE POINT IS-IT IS THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE INFERIOR AND ABUSIVE-AND ALL KINDS OF UGLY EVENTS ARE GONNA GO ON AS THEY WITHER UP AND DIE -LIKE PIECES OF THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER COMING UNTHREADED AND DROPPING OFF. IT IS SAD-BUT, AGAIN- I WARNED LOUDLY OF THESE INEVITABLE RESULTS WITH OUTSOURCING AND GIVING FALSE JOB HOPES AND FOOLISH STRESS. IT MAKES MY POINT-I HOPE THEY LISTEN NOW—-

  9. Jeff Christnagel says:

    USAF SP (Miami)

  10. SweetT says:

    Something clearly tells me that those of you here making ill jokes and comments have mental issues. There is nothing negative or positive about this woman’s death, especially someone who has served to protect our country and one who had a mental issue. But believe me when I font, karma is lead by your own finger. geesh.. RIP Miss…

  11. Chris Caron says:

    I am so happy that the police officer is still alive after this terrible incident..Too sad that a Veteran did not get the help they needed..Why did Mom who she lived with not step in/up to help her sick daughter ??

  12. 1st CAV DIV says:

    Mental illness with our returning veteran is a big problem for all those concerned: medical staff, family and those charged with protecting and serving our local interest. I’m a nurse and unfortunately this scene is becoming all too common. Im also a veteran and sometime I wonder if we are doing enough to help all of our returning veterans after 2 or more deployments in a given theater of operation. Ms. Howard was a good woman, may she rest in peace…

  13. NYGUY9999 says:

    I knew ‘Cat’ Howard and she DID NOT work for G4S Wackehut. She worked for another security company called Alanis. (Just look at the posted picture of her in a security uniform).

    All security personnel assigned to Metro-Rail are approved my Miami-Dade Transit after Transit approves them.

    I find most of the negative comments regarding Police and G4S Wackenhut to be silly and candisregardedared by intelligentgent person.

  14. K Fleming says:

    I knew Howard as well. I was in the Army while she was in the Air Force serving in Germany. Despite the issues she may have had after leaving the military, she was still a very intelligent, sweet and giving woman. She was never a complainer and always dealt with life as it came. She and her family are in my prayers….RIP

    1. Sherry Conley Mosley says:

      Mental illness is a very complex disease. this young lady was very ill. for those of you who have made a joke of this situation “shame on you”. She honorably served her country, she was educated and she was not on welfare——what the hell was that comment about. This girl was in pain, the kind of pain that you can not see–be a little more sensitive—you or a family member might one day be faced with ineffective coping. Thank God the Policeman is alright—-

  15. Kenny Jones says:

    I knew Howard when she was at Fort Gordon only 5 months ago when she was in B Co WTB, she was a people person, and was grateful to this counry. However, Congress should investigation this matter. We are told to this day, that soldier should transition from the military and heal basically on their own. How can a person served for our country and medical personnel did not hear her cry for help. Howard, was in my Squad, and never conducted herself in a infomal manner. They failed to listen to her. People are so quick to say, I didn’t know she was crying out for help. Since her departure from the military there were other incidents that have surface with other soldiers. Serving overseas is nothing that other can understand for they have not gone where she has gone and chances are they never will. Howard, GOD has your back!

  16. National Society of Women Veterans says:

    Catawaba Howard’s untimely death will not be in vain. She will be properly honored and memorialized. It is our hope that we don’t have to loose more precious veterans like her. I didn’t have the honor of meeting her, and based on the comments of those who knew her… she was splendid!!

    Many comments have been made. It is becoming increasingly obvious of how little our society understands about the level of sacrifice and sheer courage it takes to serve in the armed forces and return to a community that so easily berates service members that not long ago paid the price for YOUR freedom of speech.

    Catawaba Howard, we appreciate your choice to serve and protect our freedoms. We remember your afflictions for us. The price you paid was truly an uneven exchange. You were a hometown shero.

    We honor your memory and will help establish your legacy.

  17. Clara L. Johnson says:

    To the Howard family My prayers are with you all. I knew her as a former student and athlete during her high school years. We talked off and on through the years. My heart hurt for out lost in our community and I ask the question. Who’s really helping our young vets when they come home? Rest in god’s hands catawba your former coach Mrs. Johnson and Family.

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