ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque is lucky more people weren’t hurt during a chaotic shootout and chase that ended with four law-enforcement officers wounded and the gunman dead, interim Police Chief Allen Banks said Saturday as he recounted last weekend’s events.
From one end of the city to the other, gunfire rang out as Albuquerque police officers and deputies with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office were ambushed by Christopher Chase.
Banks described how one officer used his belt to stop the bleeding of another who had been shot in the leg and how another officer scooped up her wounded colleague and rushed him to the hospital. He said a sergeant’s quick thinking also helped avoid more casualties as Chase weaved through busy areas of the city in a stolen police car.
Chase [auth] was armed with a rifle, a handgun and more than 350 rounds of ammunition. He was dressed in body armor, camouflage clothing and a black mask.
“We do believe that he felt this was going to be his last day,” the police chief said. “He indicated to his friends and acquaintances that he was going to go out.”
Chase’s known hatred for law enforcement was symbolized in a tattoo saying “cop killer,” but Banks said Saturday that there was still no clear motive for his actions.
The three Albuquerque officers wounded during the shootout are out of the hospital and recovering. But sheriff’s Deputy Robin Hopkins is still facing several weeks in the hospital and multiple surgeries to repair gunshot damage to her leg.
Hopkins was transferred out of the intensive care unit Saturday, and the sheriff’s office said she’s grateful for all the community support.
On Oct. 26, the first 911 call came in at about 11:20 a.m. The caller said there was someone with a rifle who was threatening citizens near the intersection of Avenida Cesar Chavez and Broadway Boulevard on the city’s south side.
Officers soon learned that Chase was actually several blocks to the north. He began firing at Officer Eric Martinez as Martinez responded. The shooting drew more officers, and Chase was able to steal Martinez’s police cruiser as the wounded officer tried to take cover.
Chase headed north, shooting Officers Matt Hannum and Dan Morales along the way. Three officers carried Hannum to safety nearby, and one used his belt as a tourniquet around Hannum’s leg.
Morales was bleeding profusely after Chase shot through the door of his police cruiser, striking him twice. Another officer took him to the hospital.
Banks said Sgt. Shawn Lockey called out over the airwaves for officers not to approach Chase and ordered backup units with rifles. Lockey also decided against using a pit maneuver to stop Chase as he followed him through the North Valley, not far from where an art festival was being held that day.
Lockey also helped Hopkins after she had been shot, Banks said.
Chase eventually crashed at a gas station at Fourth Street and Montano Road. As the stolen police cruiser came to a stop, officers opened fire.
“It is undetermined if the fatal shots are by APD officers or if Chase took his own life,” Banks said, adding that detectives plan to meet with medical investigators to get details about the cause of death and how many times he may have been shot.
While six officers fired their weapons during the shootout and chase, Banks said, it will likely never be known how many shots Chase fired at officers.