ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police today released more information about the police chase and shooting last Saturday that left four officers injured and the gunman dead.
Also, the Sheriff’s Office announced today that deputy Robin Hopkins, who was badly injured in the shooting, was taken out of the Intensive Care Unit at the University of New Mexico Hospital. She’s still facing multiple surgeries on her leg and a few more weeks in the hospital, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Albuquerque interim police Chief Allen Banks said in a morning news conference that an erroneous 911 call was what led APD Officer Eric Martinez to rush toward Christopher Chase, who was waiting for police armed with an assault rifle and wearing body armor.
Banks also said detectives haven’t found much information about a motive for the shooting, except that Chase told friends he hated police officers. Chase was found with 357 unfired rounds in a black bag he carried, and letters addressed to Chase’s friends that were found in Chase’s home made it clear that he intended to die last Saturday.
An initial 911 call said that Chase was waiting for police at Avenida Cesar Chavez and Broadway, so Martinez sped south toward his location. On the way there, a sergeant told officers not to approach the suspect, and the APD K9 and SWAT teams were called, in addition a general call for officers with long guns.
Since Martinez thought he was going to Cesar Chavez, Banks said, he was surprised to find Chase waiting for him at Iron and Broadway. Chase then fired shots at Martinez, who decided to leave the cover of his police vehicle because there were bystanders behind him. He then darted east from his vehicle to take cover behind other cars, and that’s when a bullet fired from Chase’s assault rifle grazed him in the leg.
Chase then got into Martinez’s police vehicle and drove north on Broadway. When he was between Lead and Coal, he shot APD officer Matt Hannum in the leg as Hannum responded to the call. Three officers came to his aid, Banks said, and one of them removed his gunbelt and wrapped it around the officer’s leg as a tourniquet.
Two additional officers carried Hannum to a building out of harm’s way.
Soon after, APD officer Daniel Morales was heading south on Broadway to respond to the shooting when he saw an APD cruiser coming toward him with the lights flashing. He slowed down, Banks said, thinking he had somehow missed the suspect.
Chase then fired at him when the police vehicles were side by side, shooting Morales’ leg through the door near Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard and Broadway. An APD officer then rushed Morales to Lovelace Hospital, where he was treated by firefighters who happened to be there before being sent to the University of New Mexico Hospital.
Chase then continued to lead officers on a police chase that went west on Griegos to Rio Grande and north to Ranchitos. Banks said there was no opportunity to “pit” Chase, meaning ramming into the back of his car to stop him, because of the proximity to other officers and bystanders.
When Chase turned south on Fourth Street from Ranchitos, he encountered two sheriff’s deputies heading north. There, Chase shot deputy Robin Hopkins in her police cruiser as he passed.
APD Sgt. Shawn Lockey, whom Banks praised for his efforts and quick thinking throughout the chase, then pulled out of the pursuit because he saw Hopkins’ vehicle drifting. He found her unconscious in her car and administered CPR, Banks said.
Hopkins was shot at Fourth and Schulte right across the street from the Bernalillo County Fire Department building. She was immediately taken to UNMH. She stayed in ICU there all week until being let out today.
When Chase approached Solar and Fourth Street, an APD officer tried to shoot at Chase’s car tires with his shotgun, Banks said. Chase returned fire and barely missed the officer’s head.
Chase eventually ended up crashing the police cruiser at a gas station at Fourth and Montano. Police fired at him there, Banks said, but it’s unclear whether he killed himself or was killed by officers.
Banks did say that Chase suffered gunshot wounds. In a briefing the day after the chase, police did not provide any details about how Chase could have died there.
In total, six officers fired their weapons, Banks said. Chase was found with a black bag that had 357 unfired rounds in it.
Later the same day, police executed a search warrant on Chase’s house, where detectives discovered fake booby traps, empty ammunition boxes and letters Chase had written to his friends. Banks said the letters did not give any information about Chase’s motive, which is still undetermined, but they made it clear that Chase expected Saturday to be his last day.
Banks also said they’ve spoken with Chase’s friends who said he has a “long hatred toward police officers.”