ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The gunman who ambushed police officers Saturday has been identified, but officials are not speculating on his motive beyond saying he had a tattoo that read "Cop Killer."
Of the four officers injured in the gun battles that spread over miles, a female sheriff's deputy is in an intensive care unit after two surgeries, and a police officer remains hospitalized with a bullet wound or wounds to his lower extremities.
Those revelations and limited amounts of additional information were released at a Sunday afternoon news conference by Albuquerque Police Department interim Chief Allen Banks and Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston.
Banks identified the gunman slain in a final shootout as Christopher Chase, 35, whose criminal background includes misdemeanors, felonies and traffic violations. He apparently is not from Albuquerque but lived in a residence on Walter Street SE that was raided Saturday night and found to be booby-trapped with what turned out to be fake explosives.
"His motive at this point has not been determined," Albuquerque Police Department interim Chief Allen Banks said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. Current indications are Chase acted alone, he added.
Chase was wearing camouflage, body armor and a black mask and was armed with an "assault rifle," Banks said. He declined to say whether his officers killed Chase when the pursuit ended at Fourth Street NW and Montaño adding the cause of death will be established by the Office of the Medical Investigator.
Banks also revealed that three of his officers were wounded, not two as previously reported, and that he would not name the men until all have been interviewed by investigators. One remained hospitalized, another was treated and released, and the third only later discovered he'd been hit by a bullet fragment.
All were struck in their lower extremities, he added. Banks declined to say when and where in the course of the chaotic events his officers were shot.
Houston identified the wounded deputy as Robin Hopkins, an ex-Marine, current member of the Air National Guard and a 15-year veteran of the department. She was shot at Fourth Street and Schulte as she was headed north and Chase, driving a stolen APD cruiser, was fleeing south.
An APD sergeant reported seeing four puffs of smoke from Chase's weapon. The sergeant dropped out of the pursuit to aid the deputy, who was stopped in front of Bernalillo County Fire Station No. 30.
County medics applied a tourniquet to her leg and raced her to UNM Hospital, Houston said.
The sheriff said he spent time with her before the news conference.
"I told her there was a tremendous outpouring of support from the law enforcement community and citizens, which a big grin came on her face and thumbs up," an emotional Houston said. "She's' a very strong officer. She's in the ICU, which I think speaks to her condition."
She faces a long road to recovery, he added.
Banks asked for patience as investigators sort out complicated multiple crime scenes and probe Chase's background. He also declined to called the initial shooting an ambush instead calling it "a senseless act, a coward act."
The chief did clarify Saturday's sequence of events.
At 11:21 a.m. Saturday a caller to 911 reported a man in camouflage and mask armed with an AK-47 had to him to call police and say the man would be waiting at Broadway Boulevard SE and Avenida Cesar Chavez. The first officer on seen drew immediate fire as did the second, who left his car and took cover.
Chase commandeered the black-and-white APD Dodge Charger and headed north on Broadway shooting at officers at Coal Avenue SE (where a large family-oriented cookout was underway), Central Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard NE.
Officers pursued Chase north on Broadway, which becomes into Edith at Candelaria, to Griegos Road and then west on Griegos to Rio Grande Boulevard NW. The caravan headed north into Los Ranchos, east on Ranchitos Road to Fourth Street and then south on Fourth to Montaño when Chase crashed into a gas station pillar while trying to shortcut the corner to avoid traffic.
- During the pursuit Chase fired multiple rounds at officers. Witnesses and anyone with photos or video or who sustained property damage from bullets is asked to call APD at 242-COPS (242-7867).
Both Banks and Houston praised the dedication and professionalism of their officers as did Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry.
"They stepped up to the challenge and performed with valor," Berry said. "They are heroes."
KRQE News 13 is researching Chase's background and has interviewed additional witnesses for reports being prepared for KRQE News 13 at 5:30 and 10 p.m. and on 2 KASA Fox at 9 p.m.
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