Local

Suspicious student not fooled by phony cop on campus

Monday, February 17, 2014

A student was faced with a bizarre situation, when a man reportedly tried to steal her key by pretending to be a police officer.

Investigators say that actions of that a quick-thinking and suspicious student ultimately helped them track down and arrest a man now accused of posing as a University of Houston policeman.

Norwood Joseph Johnson, 27, is behind bars, and that has some students at University of Houston breathing a sigh of relief. Johnson is accused of impersonating a campus police officer.

"It's crazy man, scary," said student Scott Caime. "You never know what's going to happen."

Investigators say Johnson approached a student on campus as she was parking her car in lot 21B on Calhoun Road last week, allegedly telling that student he was a University of Houston police officer and demanded her keys, but she refused.

Student Kate Daniel said, "I'm really glad that she was smart enough to recognize that he wasn't who he said he was. But that's kind of scary for every other girl who could be approached by a man like that."

The student involved told police Johnson was aggressive in his approach, questioning her, and continuing his phony police act. The victim told investigators that imposter went so far trying to convince her he was legit, she says he picked up his cell phone, pretended to dial campus police, and began yelling out the first three digits of her license plate number.

Investigators say the student was able to use her own cell phone to alert real officers at the campus police department. They immediately arrived, and questioned Johnson.

"I think that's pretty scary, knowing that there is someone impersonating a police officer," said student Sean Hang.

Investigators say Johnson gave them several fictitious names before ultimately confessing he'd been posing as a policeman.

Student John Brollier said, "I know they are making an effort to keep everything safe."

Johnson remains in jail on a $15,000 bond.

The University of Houston Police Department issued the following statement:

    "On Feb. 7, the University of Houston Police Department received a report of a man, who they later identified as Norwood Joseph Johnson, presenting himself as a police officer to a student. The student was approached by Johnson while in her parked car on campus and was told she was not allowed to park in that location if she was not a student. Johnson told the student to give him her keys, but the student refused, recognizing that Johnson was not wearing a police uniform. The student quickly contacted UHPD, and officers responded to the scene, where they stopped and identified Johnson.

    UHPD worked with the Harris County Assistant District Attorney's office to file criminal charges and obtain a warrant for Johnson's arrest for impersonating a public servant.

    UHPD asks that any student or member of the UH community who sees something suspicious, or encounters a situation where illegal or improper activity may be occurring, contact UHPD immediately as the student in this case did. For more information on staying safe on campus, students can visit www.uh.edu/police."

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