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Cops: Man Hated Catholics

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mark Macoldowna – a “self-described Constitutionalist” who “hates Catholics” – and two accomplices had planned a robbery of the Catholic Center/St. Pius X complex for more than a week and a half before coming to Albuquerque on Monday from Ruidoso, according to police.

Macoldowna, a 31-year-old resident of Ruidoso who also used the name Mark Beechum, was fatally shot outside the complex by Albuquerque police officer Mario Perez in a close-range gun fight after the robbery on Wednesday night, officials said.

Macoldowna’s two accomplices were Kymberly Bates, his 24-year-old girlfriend, and his friend James Kellogg, 33, both of Ruidoso, police said.

The two were taken into custody late Thursday in Ruidoso and charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, according to arrest warrants. Bates also faces a charge of armed robbery. Authorities in Albuquerque plan to have them both extradited to Bernalillo County as soon as possible.

Bates told police that she, Macoldowna and Kellogg began planning the robbery about 10 days beforehand by researching the complex online, the warrants state.

Schultz said the group came to the conclusion that the Catholic Center’s administrative offices served as a repository for money collected by all local parishes and that there would be a significant amount of money there on Wednesday.

Macoldowna, who has a conviction for weapons charges in El Paso and is a suspect in an armed robbery in Ruidoso Downs, was routinely seen around Ruidoso with a firearm, the chief said.

He said Macoldowna is a Constitutionalist, which refers to a broad range of philosophical values that is generally characterized by a belief in the limited scope of government.

The plan, Bates told police, was for Kellogg to “strong arm” the security guard and allow Macoldowna to go inside the complex, the warrants state.

But after the three arrived in Albuquerque on Monday, according to the warrants, Kellogg “chickened out” and asked to be dropped off at a friend’s house. So Macoldowna and Bates watched the complex for two days and purchased zip ties and duct tape from an area hardware store.

Kellogg told police he didn’t believe Macoldowna would go through with the robbery, the warrants state.

On Wednesday night, Bates dropped Macoldowna off at the complex and left, the warrants state. Macoldowna was to call her and be picked up after the robbery.

Macoldowna waited outside the complex until a security guard walked past, according to the warrants. He attacked the guard, held him at gunpoint and the two went inside the administrative office building.

Macoldowna tied the guard to a chair and “tightly” zip-tied his neck, the warrants state. He took the guard’s keys and took a small safe from a room on the second floor. While Macoldowna was upstairs, the guard called his supervisor, who called 911.

Before leaving the building, Macoldowna called Bates to pick him up.

Officer Perez, who responded to the 911 call, encountered Macoldowna outside the administrative offices, and a close-range gun battle quickly ensued, Schultz said.

It’s unclear who shot first, and Perez didn’t remember, the chief said. A low-quality security camera appears to show Macoldowna fire the first shot after dropping the safe, which turned out to be empty.

“It was kind of a standard gun fight,” Schultz said in an interview. “It was all about who could draw fastest.”

The two were six to eight feet apart.

Macoldowna got off three rounds, the chief said, but was unable to empty his .357-caliber revolver because it malfunctioned. All of the rounds missed, and police say the heavy gloves he was wearing may have gotten caught in the weapon’s firing mechanism.

Perez got off five rounds, Schultz said. Four of them struck Macoldowna, killing him.

“Officer Perez is a very lucky man,” the chief said.

According to the warrants, Bates saw several police officers at the complex when she arrived to pick Macoldowna up and drove away.

She picked Kellogg up and the two drove back to Ruidoso hours after the robbery.

Schultz would not say how police learned about Bates and Kellogg.

— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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