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Army vet killed during robbery also had gun

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

Before he was shot and killed near a Southeast Albuquerque ATM last month, 24-year-old Tyler Lackey, a recently discharged Army veteran, pulled a gun on the man who was attempting to rob him, according to documents released Thursday.

Lackey apparently was trying to hold the would-be robber there until police could be called.

Lackey was with a friend when he stopped at an ATM near Gibson and Yale the night of Feb. 5. The friend said Lackey wanted to get money to pay him back for buying dinner earlier in the night, according to a police report.

The friend said he waited in Lackey’s truck as Lackey walked up to the ATM. He said he saw a man wearing a bandanna over his face walk up behind Lackey.

The friend said he saw the man in the bandanna and Lackey talking, and then he saw Lackey pull out a gun and point it.

The man in the bandanna retreated to his car, and Lackey followed him, the friend said.

The friend told officers that he joined Lackey, pulling out a knife to “have his back.”

He said a woman was also in the car.

Police are looking for Matthew Chavez, 25, in connection with the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old Army veteran near an ATM on Feb. 5. (Albuquerque Police Department)

Police are looking for Matthew Chavez, 25, in connection with the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old Army veteran near an ATM on Feb. 5. (Albuquerque Police Department)

“My buddy was saying, ‘Get out of the car,’ ” Lackey’s friend told officers. “The plan was pretty much to hold him hostage until police showed up.”

The friend said he did not see the man’s gun until the man was sitting in the car.

“My friend saw it too, but he already had his gun drawn,” he said.

The man drove away, firing three to four times as he left, according to the police report.

Lackey was shot in the chest.

“He fell to the ground,” Lackey’s friend said. “He said, ‘I’m hit.’ I had my hands under his head to keep him from choking on his blood. Then other people, other witnesses, came up and started helping out.”

Rescue workers were unable to revive Lackey, and he died on the scene.

Several witnesses from a nearby Little Caesars and IHOP told police about seeing two men arguing before one was shot. They described a red and white sedan, missing a license plate, fleeing from the parking lot.

Police called to investigate a burning car found the distinctive red and white sedan later on the night of the fatal shooting of Army veteran Tyler Lackey on Feb. 5. (Albuquerque Police Department)

Police called to investigate a burning car found the distinctive red and white sedan later on the night of the fatal shooting of Army veteran Tyler Lackey on Feb. 5. (Albuquerque Police Department)

Later that night, officers called to investigate a burning car found the distinctive sedan charred and smoldering, according to the police report. Surveillance video and tips from the community led detectives to identify Matthew Chavez, 25, and Veronica Trimble, 22, as suspects.

Detectives filed arrest warrants charging the pair with murder, arson and several other offenses in mid-February. The affidavit attached to the warrant was sealed to protect those who provided information about the accused, according to a court order filed in Metropolitan Court. The order cites danger to officers and witnesses.

Police are looking for a woman identified as Veronica Trimble, 22, in connection with the shooting of an Army veteran. (Albuquerque Police Department)

Police are looking for a woman identified as Veronica Trimble, 22, in connection with the shooting of an Army veteran. (Albuquerque Police Department)

Chavez and Trimble are still on the loose, and local, state and federal officers are looking for them.

“The case is still being investigated hard on a daily basis,” said officer Simon Drobik, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department. “Obviously, he’s not in custody and she’s not in custody, but it’s not for a lack of trying.”

News of Lackey’s death traveled quickly across the country.

Lackey recently returned to Albuquerque after a 5½-year stint as a paratrooper medic in the 82nd Airborne Division. He had completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan and was stationed at Fort Bragg, along with his girlfriend, before leaving the military and returning home last fall. He had enrolled in Central New Mexico Community College, where he planned to pursue a career in the medical field.

As Lackey’s friend was interviewed at the scene, he realized Lackey was not going to make it. He told police he could take them to Lackey’s family’s house and that he wanted to be the one to tell his friend’s family what happened.

“Nobody knows right now, and I really need to get this information to his family,” he said. “They live a couple of blocks away. I really need to.”

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